Mechanical Properties of Carbon Nanotube reinforced composites


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Carbon nanotube (CNT) is considered promising to reinforce materials on account of its extraordinary mechanical properties. However, the mechanical performance of current carbon nanotube reinforced composites is far from satisfaction due to poor dispersion of CNT in the matrix and vulnerable interface between CNT and the matrix.

In this research, a model with cohesive elements is applied to characterize the interfacial behaviour between the CNT and the matrix. In addition, composites with diversely arranged CNTs will be studied to figure out how different structures and different dimensions might influence the mechanical properties of composites, both in stiffness and in strength.

Current work

Our current work focuses on failure and fracture on the interface. To study fracture of CNT reinforced composites, we have adopted a simple model (Fig. 1) with CNTs squarely arrayed. Bilinear cohesive element w

as adopted in the interfacial zone. To describe the interface behaviour between CNTs and the matrix more precisely, a nonlinear cohesive law is being devised in order to consider van der Waals interaction between carbon atoms and atoms in the matrix.

Future work

  • Fracture and crack propagation
  • Effect of CNT dimensions
  • Effect of CNT volume fraction


Liu, X. et al. 2014. Interface analysis and design in carbon nanotube array composite based on cohesive finite element approach. Materials Science and Engineering: A 592, pp. 83-87.

Tan, H. et al. 2007. The effect of van der Waals-based interface cohesive law on carbon nanotube-reinforced composite materials. Composites Science and Technology 67(14), pp. 2941-2946.