We investigate nanoelectromechanical systems near mechanical instabilities. We show that quite generally, the interaction between the electronic and the vibronic degrees of freedom can be accounted for essentially exactly when the instability is continuous. We apply our general framework to the Euler buckling instability and find that the interaction between electronic and vibronic degrees of freedom qualitatively affects the mechanical instability, turning it into a discontinuous one in close analogy with tricritical points in the Landau theory of phase transitions.
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