Mesoscale mechanics of twisting carbon nanotube yarns

R Mirzaeifar and Z Qin and MJ Buehler, NANOSCALE, 7, 5435-5445 (2015).

DOI: 10.1039/c4nr06669c

Fabricating continuous macroscopic carbon nanotube (CNT) yarns with mechanical properties close to individual CNTs remains a major challenge. Spinning CNT fibers and ribbons for enhancing the weak interactions between the nanotubes is a simple and efficient method for fabricating high-strength and tough continuous yarns. Here we investigate the mesoscale mechanics of twisting CNT yarns using full atomistic and coarse grained molecular dynamics simulations, considering concurrent mechanisms at multiple length-scales. To investigate the mechanical response of such a complex structure without losing insights into the molecular mechanism, we applied a multiscale strategy. The full atomistic results are used for training a coarse grained model for studying larger systems consisting of several CNTs. The mesoscopic model parameters are updated as a function of the twist angle, based on the full atomistic results, in order to incorporate the atomistic scale deformation mechanisms in larger scale simulations. By bridging across two length scales, our model is capable of accurately predicting the mechanical behavior of twisted yarns while the atomistic level deformations in individual nanotubes are integrated into the model by updating the parameters. Our results focused on studying a bundle of close packed nanotubes provide novel mechanistic insights into the spinning of CNTs. Our simulations reveal how twisting a bundle of CNTs improves the shear interaction between the nanotubes up to a certain level due to increasing the interaction surface. Furthermore, twisting the bundle weakens the intertube interactions due to excessive deformation in the cross sections of individual CNTs in the bundle.

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