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A rigid body generally means a hard solid object having a definite shape and size. But in reality,
bodies can be stretched, compressed and bent. Even the appreciably rigid steel bar can be deformed
when a sufficiently large external force is applied on it. This means that solid bodies are not
perfectly rigid.
Elasticity and Plasticity :
A solid has definite shape and size. In order to change (or deform) the shape or size of a body, a
force is required. If you stretch a helical spring by gently pulling its ends, the length of the spring
increases slightly. When you leave the ends of the spring, it regains its original size and shape.
The property of a body, by virtue of which it tends to regain its original size and shape when the
applied force is removed, is known as elasticity and the deformation caused is known as elastic
However, if you apply force to a lump of putty or mud, they have no gross tendency to regain their
previous shape, and they get permanently deformed. Such substances are called plastic and this
property is called plasticity. Putty and mud are close to ideal plastics. The elastic behaviour of
materials plays an important role in engineering design.
Note: For example, while designing a building, knowledge of elastic properties of materials like
steel, concrete etc. is essential.
Hookes Law
Robert Hooke, an English physicist (1635 - 1703 A.D) performed experiments on springs and found
that the elongation (change in the length) produced in a body is proportional to the applied force or
It is very important to know the behaviour of the materials under various kinds of load from the
context of engineering design.
Stress and Strain
When forces are applied on a body in such a manner that the body is still in static equilibrium, it is
deformed to a small or large extent depending upon the nature of the material of the body and the
magnitude of the deforming force. The deformation may not be noticeable visually in many
materials but it is there.
When a body is subjected to a deforming force, a restoring force is developed in the body. This
restoring force is equal in magnitude but opposite in direction to the applied force. The restoring
force per unit area is known as stress. If F is the force applied and A is the area of cross section of
the body,
Magnitude of the stress = F/A
The SI unit of stress is N m2 or pascal (Pa) and its dimensional formula is [ML1T2].

Mechanical Properties of Solids

There are three ways in which a solid may change its dimensions when an external force acts on it
i.e. three types of stress namely
1. Longitudinal stress
2. Tangential Stress
3. Hydraulic stress
These stresses are shown in the figure and are discussed below
1. Longitudinal stress
Longitudinal stress can be Further subdivided into
(i) Tensile Stress
(ii) Compressive Stress
(i) Tensile stress- In Fig.2 (a), a cylinder is stretched by two equal forces applied normal to its
cross-sectional area. The restoring force per unit area in this case is called tensile stress.
(ii) Compressive stress- If the cylinder is compressed under the action of applied forces, the
restoring force per unit area is known as compressive stress.
Tensile or compressive stress can also be termed as longitudinal stress. In both the cases, there is
a change in the length of the cylinder.
Longitudinal strain- The change in the length L to the original length L of the body (cylinder
in this case) is known as longitudinal strain.
Longitudinal strain =
2. Tangential Stress
However, if two equal and opposite deforming forces are applied parallel to the cross-sectional
area of the cylinder, as shown in Fig.2 (b), there is relative displacement between the opposite
faces of the cylinder. The restoring force per unit area developed due to the applied tangential
force is known as tangential or shearing stress.
Shearing Strain
As a result of applied tangential force, there is a relative displacement x between opposite faces
of the cylinder as shown in the Fig.2 (b).
It can also be visualised, when a book is pressed with the hand and pushed horizontally, as
shown in Fig.2 (c).
The strain so produced is known as shearing strain and it is defined as the ratio of relative
displacement of the faces x to the length of the cylinder L.
Shearing strain =
Usually is very small, tan is nearly equal to angle , (if = 10o, for example, there is only
1% difference between and tan ).
Thus, shearing strain = tan

Fig.2: (a) A cylindrical body under tensile stress elongates by L, (b) Shearing stress on a
cylinder deforming it by an angle (c) A body subjected to shearing stress (d) A solid body
under a stress normal to the surface at every point (hydrautic stress). The volumetric strain is
V/V. but there is no change in shape.

3. Hydraulic Stress
The force applied by the fluid acts in perpendicular direction at each point of the surface and the
body is said to be under hydraulic compression. The body develops internal restoring forces that
are equal and opposite to the forces applied by the fluid (the body restores its original shape and
size when taken out from the fluid). The internal restoring force per unit area in this case is
known as hydraulic stress and in magnitude is equal to the hydraulic pressure (applied force per
unit area). This leads to decrease in its volume without any change of its geometrical shape.
In Fig.2 (d), a solid sphere placed in the fluid under high pressure is compressed uniformly on all
Volume Strain
The strain produced by a hydraulic pressure is called volume strain and is defined as the ratio of
change in volume ( V ) to the original volume (V).
Volume strain
Note: Since the strain is a ratio of change in dimension to the original dimension, it has no units or
dimensional formula.
Hookes Law
Stress and strain take different forms in the situations depicted in the Figure above For small
deformations the stress and strain are proportional to each other. This is known as Hookes law.
stress strain
stress = k strain
where k is the proportionality constant and is known as modulus of elasticity.
Stress Strain Curve
The relation between the stress and the strain for a given material under tensile stress can be found
experimentally. In a standard test of tensile properties, a test cylinder or a wire is stretched by an
applied force. The fractional change in length (the strain) and the applied force needed to cause the
strain are recorded. The applied force is gradually increased in steps and the change in length is
noted. A graph is plotted between the stress (which is equal in magnitude to the applied force per
unit area) and the strain produced. These curves help us to understand how a given material deforms

Mechanical Properties of Solids

with increasing loads. . The stress-strain curves vary from material to material. Analogous graphs for
compression and shear stress may also be obtained
A typical graph for a metal is shown in Fig.3.
From the graph, we can see that in the region between O to A, the curve is linear. In this region,
Hookes law is obeyed. The body regains its original dimensions when the applied force is
removed. In this region, the solid behaves as an elastic body.

Fig.3: A typical stress-strain curve for a metal.

In the region from A to B, stress and strain are not proportional. Nevertheless, the body still
returns to its original dimension when the load is removed. The point B in the curve is known as
yield point (also known as elastic limit) and the corresponding stress is known as yield strength
( y ) of the material.

If the load is increased further, the stress developed exceeds the yield strength and strain
increases rapidly even for a small change in the stress. The portion of the curve between B and D
shows this.
When the load is removed, say at some point C between B and D, the body does not regain its
original dimension. In this case, even when the stress is zero, the strain is not zero. The material
is said to have a permanent set. The deformation is said to be plastic deformation.
The point D on the graph is the ultimate tensile strength ( u ) of the material. Beyond this point,
additional strain is produced even by a reduced applied force and fracture occurs at point E.
If the ultimate strength and fracture points D and E are close, the material is said to be brittle. If
they are far apart, the material is said to be ductile.
Fig. 4 shows stress-strain curve for the elastic tissue of aorta, present in the heart. Note that
although elastic region is very large, the material does not obey Hookes law over most of the
region. Secondly, there is no well defined plastic region. Substances like tissue of aorta, rubber
etc. which can be stretched to cause large strains are called elastomers

Fig.4: Stress-strain curve for the elastic tissue of Aorta, the large tube (vessel)
carrying blood from the heart.
Elastic Moduli
The ratio of stress and strain, called modulus of elasticity, is found to be a characteristic of the
material. Here we discuss the three modulii of Elasticity relating to each of the three types of stresses
1. Youngs Modulus for Longitudinal Stress
2. Shear Modulus for Shearing Stress
3. Bulk Modulus for Hydraulic Stress
1. Youngs Modulus:
The ratio of tensile (or compressive) stress () to the longitudinal strain () is defined as Youngs
modulus and is denoted by the symbol Y.
(tensile or compressive stress) and (longitudinal strain) and we know
L / L


Y = (F / A) /( L / L)
(F L) /(A L)
Since strain is a dimensionless quantity, the unit of Youngs modulus is the same as that of stress
i.e., Nm2 or Pascal (Pa).

2. Shear Modulus:
The ratio of shearing stress to the corresponding shearing strain is called the shear modulus of the
material and is represented by G. It is also called the modulus of rigidity.
G = shearing stress (s ) / shearing strain
G (F / A) /( x / L)
(F L) /(A x)

Mechanical Properties of Solids

Similarly, from equation
G (F / A) /
F /(A )
The shearing stress s can also be expressed as


s G
The SI unit of shear modulus is Nm2 of Pa.


3. Bulk Modulus:
The ratio of hydraulic stress to the corresponding hydraulic strain is called bulk modulus. It is
denoted by symbol B.
B = p/(V/V)
The negative sign indicates the fact that with an increase in pressure, a decrease in volume
occurs. That is, if p is positive, V is negative. Thus for a system in equilibrium, the value of
bulk modulus B is always positive.
SI unit of bulk modulus is the same as that of pressure i.e., Nm2 or Pa.
The reciprocal of the bulk modulus is called compressibility and is denoted by k. It is defined as the
fractional change in volume per unit increase in pressure.
k (1/ B) (1/ p) (V / V)
Compressibility of solids
Solids are least compressible whereas gases are most compressible.
The incompressibility of the solids is primarily due to the tight coupling between the neighbouring
atoms. The molecules in liquids are also bound with their neighbours but not as strong as in solids.
Molecules in gases are very poorly coupled to their neighbours.
Applications of Elastic Behaviour of Materials
The study of the elastic behaviour of materials plays an important role in everyday life. For example
while designing a building, the structural design of the columns, beams and supports require
knowledge of strength of materials used. Some of the uses are discussed below:
Rope of Crane
Cranes used for lifting and moving heavy loads from one place to another have a thick metal rope to
which the load is attached. The rope is pulled up using pulleys and motors. Suppose we want to
make a crane, which has a lifting capacity of 10 tonnes or metric tons (1 metric ton = 1000 kg). How
thick should the steel rope be? We obviously want that the load does not deform the rope
permanently. Therefore, the extension should not exceed the elastic limit.
Loading of beams
A bridge has to be designed such that it can withstand the load of the flowing traffic, the force of
winds and its own weight. Similarly, in the design of buildings use of beams and columns is very
common. In both the cases, the overcoming of the problem of bending of beam under a load is of
prime importance. The beam should not bend too much or break.

But on increasing the depth, unless the load is exactly at the right place (difficult to arrange in a
bridge with moving traffic), the deep bar may bend as shown in Fig.7 (b). This is called buckling. To
avoid this, a common compromise is the cross-sectional shape shown in Fig.7(c). This section
provides a large load bearing surface and enough depth to prevent bending.

Fig.7: Different cross-sectional shapes of a beam. (a) Rectangular section of a bar;(b) A thin
bar and how it can buckle; (c) Commonly used section for a load bearing bar.
Use of Pillars
Use of pillars or columns is also very common in buildings and bridges. A pillar with rounded ends
as shown in Fig.8 (a) supports less load than that with a distributed shape at the ends [Fig.8 (b)]. The
precise design of a bridge or a building has to take into account the conditions under which it will
function, the cost and long period, reliability of usable materials etc.

Fig.8: Pillars or columns: (a) a pillar with rounded ends, (b) Pillar with distributed ends.

Mechanical Properties of Solids

QUESTION 1: A structural steel rod has a radius of 10mm and a length of 1.0m A 100 kN force
stretches it along its length. Calculate (a) stress, (b) elongation, and (c) strain on the rod. Youngs
modulus, of structural steel is 2.0 1011 N.m2.
Solution: We assume that the rod is held by a clamp at one end, and the force F is applied at the
other end, parallel to the length of the rod. Then the stress on the rod is given by
Stress 2
A r
100 103 N

3.14 102 m
= 3.18 108 N m2
The elongation,
(F / A)L
3.18 108 N m 2 (1m)

2 1011 N m 2
= 1.59 103 m
= 1.59 mm
The strain is given by
Strain = L / L
= (1.59 103m)/(1m)
= 1.59 103
= 0.16%
QUESTION 2: A copper wire of length 2.2 m and a steel wire of length 1.6m, both of diameter 3.0
mm, are connected end to end. When stretched by a load, the net elongation is found to be 0.70 mm.
Obtain the load applied.
Solution: The copper and steel wires are under a tensile stress because they have the same tension
(equal to the load W) and same area of cross-section A. we have stress = strain Youngs modulus.
W / A YC (LC / LC ) YS (LS / LS )
where the subscripts c and s refer to copper and stainless steel respectively. Or,
LC / LS (YS / YC ) (LC / LS )
Given LC 2.2m, LS 1.6m,
From Table 9.1m, YC = 1.1 1011 N.m2 , and

YS = 2.0 1011 N.m2.
LC / LS (2.0 1011 /1.11011 ) (2.2 /1.6) 2.5.
The total elongation is given to be
LC LS 7.0 104 m
Solving the above equations,
LC 5.0 104 m, and LS 2.0 104 m.
W = (A YC L C ) / LC
(1.5 103 )2 [(5.0 104 1.11011 ) / 2.2]
= 1.8 102N

QUESTION 3: A square lead slab of side 50 cm and thickness 10 cm is subject to a shearing force
(on its narrow face) of 9.0 104 N. The lower edge is riveted to the floor. How much will the upper
edge be displaced?
Solution: The lead slab is fixed and the force is applied parallel to the narrow face as shown in Fig.
The area of the face parallel to which this force is applied is
A = 50cm 10cm
= 0.5m 1.0m
= 0.05m2
Therefore, the stress applied is
= (9.4 104N/0.05m2)
= 1.80 106 N.m2
We know that shearing strain = (x / L) = Stress /G.
Therefore the displacement x (Stress L)/G
= (1.8 106 N m2 0.5m)/(5.6 109N m2
= 1.6 104 m = 0.16mm
QUESTION 4: The average depth of Indian Ocean is about 3000m. Calculate the fractional
compression, V / V, of water at the bottom of the ocean, given that the bulk modulus of water is
2.2 109 N m2. (Take g = 10 m s2)
Solution: The pressure exerted by a 3000 m column of water on the bottom layer
p = hp g = 3000 m 1000 kg m1 s2
= 3 107 kg m1 s2
= 3 107 N m2
Fractional compression V / V,is
V / V stress / B (3 107 N m 2 ) /(2.2 109 Nm 2 )
1.36 102 or 1.36%

Additional Solved Examples

Example 1: How much will a 3.0m long copper wire elongate if a weight of 10 kg is suspended
from one end and the other end is fixed? The diameter of the wire is 0.4mm. Given: Y for copper =
1011 Nm2 and g = 9.8 m s2 .
Solution: M = 10 kg, F = Mg = 10 9.8 N = 98 M
r = 0.2 nm = 0.2 103 m, Y = 1011 Nm2
l = 3, l = ?

Mechanical Properties of Solids


F l
A l
F l
l 2
r Y
98 3 7

22 (0.2 103 ) 2 1011

98 21

m 0.02339 m 2.339 cm
88 103

Now, Y


Example 2: A copper wire of length 2.2m and a steel wire of length 1.6m, both of diameter 3.0 mm,
are connected end to end. When stretched by a load, the net elongation is found to be 0.7mm. Obtain
the load applied. Given: Youngs modulus of copper = 1.1 1011 Nm2 and Youngs modulus of
steel = 2.0 1011 Nm2.
Solution: The copper and steel wires are under a tensile stress because they have the same tension
(equal to the load W) and the same area of cross-section A.
Youngs modules =
stress = Youngs Modulus strain
Yc c Ys s
[The subscripts c and s refer to copper and stainless steel respetively.]
Lc Ys Lc

Ls Yc Ls
2.0 1011 2.2
1.110 1.6
Net elongation = Lc + Ls = 0.7 mm = 7 104 m
Now, 2.5 Ls + Ls = 7 104m
7 104
m 2 104 m
Again, Lc = 2.5 Ls = 2.5 2 104 m = 5 104 m
Yc L c
Now, W =
(1.5 103 )2 (1.11011 )(5 104 )
= 1.8 102 N

Example 3: A sphere contracts in volume by 0.01% when taken to the bottom of sea 1km deep. Find
the bulk modulus of the material of the sphere. Given : density of sea water is 1g cm 3, g = 980 cm
V 0.01

, h 1km 103 m 105 cm


1g cm3 ; P 105 1 980dyne cm 2 , K ?

P V 105 980 100

dyne cm 2
V / V
= 98 1010 dyne cm2

Example 4: An Indian rubber cube of side 7cm has one side fixed while a tangential force equal to
the weight of 200kg is applied to the opposite face. Find the shearing strain produced and te distance
through which the strained side moves. Given: modulus of rigidity for rubber is 2 107 dyne cm2.
Solution: l = 7 cm, F = 200 kgf
= 200 1000 981 dyne,
= 2 107 dyne cm2
Area of the face of the cube, A = l2 = 7 cm 7 cm = 49 cm2
200 1000 981


rad 0.2 rad

49 2 107

shearing strain,
l = l = 7 0.2 cm = 1.4 cm
Example 5: A uniform steel wire of length 2.5m and of density 8g cm3 weights 50g. When
stretched by a force of 10kgf, the length increases by 2 mm. Calculate Youngs modulus for steel.
m 50
Solution: V cm3 106 m3

V 50
1 2
a 106
10 9.8

Nm 2
2.5 10
2 10
4.9 10 N m 2
Example 6: A rubber rope of length 8m is hung from the ceiling of a room. What is the increase in
length of the rope due to its own weight? (Given: Youngs modulus of elasticity of rubber
= 5 106N m2 and density of rubber = 1.5 103 kg m3. Takes g = 10 m s2.)
Mg L / 2

Solution: Y
(Length is taken as
because weight acts at C.G.)
Now, M = AL
[For the purpose of calculation of mass, the whole of geometrical length L is to be considered].
or L
2A L
1.5 103 10 8 8

2 5 106
= 9.6 102 m
= 9.6 102 103 mm = 96 mm

Mechanical Properties of Solids


Example 7: A composite wire of uniform diameter 3.0 mm consisting of a copper wire of length
2.2m and a steel wire of length 1.6m stretches under a load by 0.7mm. Calculate the load, given that
the Youngs modulus for copper is 1.1 1011 Pa and for steel is 2.0 1011 Pa.
Solution: lc ls 0.7 103 m
Y l
Also, c s c
ls Yc ls
2 101 2.2

1.11011 1.6
lc = 2.5 ls ; 3.5 ls = 0.7 103
0.7 10 3
ls =
m 2 10 4 m
Now, Ys 2
rs ls


2 1011 3.14 1.5 103 1.5 103 2 104

= 1.77 102 N

Example 8: Determine the fractional change in volume as the pressure of the atmosphere (1105 Pa)
around a metal block is reduced to zero by placing the block in vacuum. The bulk modulus for the
metal is 1.25 1011 N m2.
Solution: P = 105 N m-2,
K = 1.25 1011 N m2

K 1.25 1011
= 8 107
Example 9: A spherical ball contracts in volume by 0.0098% when it is subjected to a pressure of
100 atmosphere. Calculate its bulk modulus?
V 0.0098

, P 100 atm, K ?
V / V
100 100
atm 1.02 106 atm
Example 10: By applying a tangential force of 5kg to the upper surface of a cube of side 5cm with
respect to the bottom. Calculate the shearing stress, strain and shear modulus.
Solution: F = 5 kg wt = 5 9.8 N,
a = 25 104 m2,
l = 0.5 cm, l = 5 cm

Shear modulus
5 9.8 5

N m 2
25 104 0.5
= 1.96 105 N m2
Example 11: A box-shaped piece of gelatin dessert has a top area of 15 cm2 and a height of 3 cm.
When a shearing force of 0.50N is applied to the upper surface, the upper surface displaces 4mm
relative to the bottom surface. What are the shearing stress, shearing strain and the shear modulus for
the gelatin?
Solution: A = 15 104 m2, l = 3 102 m,
F = 0.50 N, l = 4 103 m
N m 2
Stress =
15 104
= 333.3 N m2
l 4 103

Strain =
l 3 102
Shear modulus
3 102

N m 2
strain 15 10
4 10

105 N m 2 2500 N m 2
Example 12: A load of 4.0 kg is suspended from a ceiling through a steel wire of radius 2.0 mm.
Find the tensile stress developed in the wire when equilibrium is achieved. Take
g 3.1 m s 2
Solution: Tension in the wire is
F = 4.0 3.1 N
The area of cross section is
A = r2 = (2.0 103 m)2
= 4.0 106 m2
Thus, the tensile stress developed
4.0 3.1

N m 2
A 4.0 10 6
= 3.1 106 N m2
Example 13: A steel wire of length 2.0m is stretched through 2.0mm. The cross-sectional area of the
wire is 4.0 mm2. Calculate the elastic potential energy stored in the wire in the stretched condition.
Young modulus of steel = 2.0 1011 N m2.
l 2.0 mm

Solution: The strain in the wire
2.0 m
The stress in the wire = Y strain
= 2.0 1011 N m2 103 = 2.0 108 N m2
The volume of the wire = (4 106 m2) (2.0 m)
= 8.0 106 m3

Mechanical Properties of Solids


The elastic potential energy stored

= stress strain volume
= 2.0 108 N m 2 10 3 8.0 10 6 m 3
= 0.8 J
Example 14: Two wires of equal cross section but one made of steel and the other of copper, are
joined end to end. When the combination is kept under tension, the elongations in the two wires are
found to be equal. Find the ratio of the lengths of the two wires. Young modulus of steel = 2.0 1011
N m2 and that of copper = 1.1 1011 N m2.
Solution: As the cross sections of the wires are equal and same tension exists in both, the stresses
developed are equal. Let the original lengths of the steel wire and the copper wire be Ls and Lc
respectively and the elongation in each wire be l.

Ls 2.0 1011 N m 2

L c 1.11011 N m 2
Dividing (ii) by (i)
Ls/Lc = 2.0/1.1 = 20 : 11
Example 15: One end of a steel rod of radius R = 9.5 mm and length L = 81 cm is held in a vise. A
force of magnitude F = 62 kN is then applied perpendicularly to the end face (uniformly across the
area) at the other end. What are the stress on the rod and he elongation L and strain of the rod?
Solution: The stress is the ratio of the magnitude F of the perpendicular force to the area A. The
ratio is the left side. The elongation L is related to the stress and Youngs modulus E by Eq. (F/A
= E L/L). Strain si the ratio of the elongation to the initial length L.
To find the stress, we write
6.2 104 N

Stress =
A R 2 () (9.5 103 m) 2
= 2.2 108 N/m2
The yield strength for structural steel is 2.5 108 N/m2, so this rod is dangerously close to its yield
We find the value of Youngs modulus for steel. Then from Eq. we find the elongation:
(F / A)L (2.2 108 N / m 2 )(0.81m)

2.0 1011 N / m 2
= 8.9 104 m = 0.89 mm
For the strain, we have
L 8.9 10 4 m

= 1.1 103 = 0.11%
You can see that at just 0.1% strain, the rod is at yield point. This is the reason we cannot see any
change in the dimensions of the metal objects under normal situations.

Example 16: A solid sphere is initially kept in open air, and the pressure exerted on it by air is 1.0
105 N/m2 (atmospheric pressure). The sphere is lowered into the ocean to a depth where the pressure
is 200 times the atmospheric pressure. The volume of the sphere in air is 0.5 m3. What is the change
in the volume once the sphere is submerged? Given that bulk modulus is 6.11010 N/m2.
Solution: What happens when you squeeze a tennis ball in your hand, its volume reduces as it
shrinks. We can expect same thing to happen to the sphere when it is subjected to high pressure from
the ocean water. We need to perform a simple calculation using Eq.
V i
Substituting the numerical values:
(0.50 m3 )(2.0 107 N / m 2 1.0 105 N / m 2 )
6.11010 N / m 2
= 1.6 104 m3
The negative sign indicates that the volume of the sphere decreases when submerged.