Elastic deformation refers to the temporary change in shape or size of a material under the application of external forces, where the material can return to its original shape and size once the forces are removed. In other words, elastic deformation is a reversible deformation that does not result in permanent changes to the material.
When a material is subjected to external forces, such as stretching, compressing, or bending its atoms or molecules are displaced from their original positions. In the elastic deformation range, the material experiences a linear relationship between the applied stress (force per unit area) and the resulting strain (change in length per unit length).
The elastic behavior of a material is governed by its elastic modulus, also known as Young’s modulus. The elastic modulus represents the stiffness or rigidity of the material and determines how much it will deform under a given amount of stress. Different materials have different elastic moduli, and this property influences their ability to withstand deformation without permanent damage.
During elastic deformation, the material stores potential energy in the form of elastic strain energy. This energy is released when the external forces are removed, allowing the material to return to its original shape and size. The strength of the interatomic or intermolecular forces as well as the atomic or molecular structure of a material determine its capacity for elastic deformation.
It’s important to note that elastic deformation has limits. If the applied forces exceed a certain threshold, known as the elastic limit or yield point, the material may undergo plastic deformation, where it deforms permanently and does not fully recover its original shape upon removal of the forces. The elastic limit varies for different materials and is an essential factor in determining their mechanical properties.
Elastic deformation is a fundamental concept in materials science and engineering, and understanding it is crucial in designing structures and components that can withstand various loads and stresses without permanent deformation or failure.