Structural solution using molecular dynamics: Fundamentals and a case study of epoxy-silica interface

O Buyukozturk and MJ Buehler and D Lau and C Tuakta, INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SOLIDS AND STRUCTURES, 48, 2131-2140 (2011).

DOI: 10.1016/j.ijsolstr.2011.03.018

In this paper, the molecular dynamics (MD) simulation technique is described in the context of structural mechanics applications, providing a fundamental understanding of the atomistic approach, and demonstrating its applicability. Atomistic models provide a bottom-up description of material properties and processes, and MD simulation is capable of solving the dynamic evolution of equilibrium and non-equilibrium processes. The applicability of the technique to structural engineering problems is demonstrated through an interface debonding problem in a multi-layered material system usually encountered in composite structures. Interface debonding may lead to a possible premature failure of fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) bonded reinforced concrete (RC) structural elements subjected to moisture. Existing knowledge on mesa- scale fracture mechanics may not fully explain the weakening of the interface between concrete and epoxy, when the interface is under moisture; there is a need to study the moisture affected debonding of the interface using a more fundamental approach that incorporates chemistry in the description of materials. The results of the atomistic modeling presented in this paper show that the adhesive strength (in terms of energy) between epoxy and silica is weakened in the presence of water through its interaction with epoxy. This is correlated with the existing meso-scale experimental data. This example demonstrates that MD simulation can be effectively used in studying the durability of the system through an understanding of how materials interact with the environment at the molecular level. In view of the limitation of MD simulation on both length- and time-scales, future research may focus on the development of a bridging technique between MD and finite element modeling (FEM) to be able to correlate the results from the nano- to the macro-scale. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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