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In physics, elasticity (from Greek ἐλαστός "ductible") is the tendency of solid materials to return to their original shape after being deformed. Solid objects will deform when forces are applied on them. If the material is elastic, the object will return to its initial shape and size when these forces are removed.

The physical reasons for elastic behavior can be quite different for different materials. In metals, the atomic lattice changes size and shape when forces are applied (energy is added to the system). When forces are removed, the lattice goes back to the original lower energy state. For rubbers and other polymers, elasticity is caused by the stretching of polymer chains when forces are applied.

Perfect elasticity is an approximation of the real world, and few materials remain purely elastic even after very small deformations. In engineering, the amount of elasticity of a material is determined by two types of material parameter. The first type of material parameter is called a modulus, which measures the amount of force per unit area (stress) needed to achieve a given amount of deformation. The units of modulus are pascals (Pa) or pounds of force per square inch (psi, also lbf/in). A higher modulus typically indicates that the material is harder to deform. The second type of parameter measures the elastic limit. The limit can be a stress beyond which the material no longer behaves elastic and deformation of the material will take place. If the stress is released, the material will elastically return to a permanent deformed shape instead of the original shape.

When describing the relative elasticities of two materials, both the modulus and the elastic limit have to be considered. Rubbers typically have a low modulus and tend to stretch a lot (that is, they have a high elastic limit) and so appear more elastic than metals (high modulus and low elastic limit) in everyday experience. Of two rubber materials with the same elastic limit, the one with a lower modulus will appear to be more elastic.

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