Multiscale mechanics of the lateral pressure effect on enhancing the load transfer between polymer coated CNTs

F Yazdandoost and R Mirzaeifar and Z Qin and MJ Buehler, NANOSCALE, 9, 5565-5576 (2017).

DOI: 10.1039/c7nr00312a

While individual carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are known as one of the strongest fibers ever known, even the strongest fabricated macroscale CNT yarns and fibers are still significantly weaker than individual nanotubes. The loss in mechanical properties is mainly because the deformation mechanism of CNT fibers is highly governed by the weak shear strength corresponding to sliding of nanotubes on each other. Adding polymer coating to the bundles, and twisting the CNT yarns to enhance the intertube interactions are both efficient methods to improve the mechanical properties of macroscale yarns. Here, we perform molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to unravel the unknown deformation mechanism in the intertube polymer chains and also local deformations of the CNTs at the atomistic scale. Our results show that the lateral pressure can have both beneficial and adverse effects on shear strength of polymer coated CNTs, depending on the local deformations at the atomistic scale. In this paper we also introduce a bottom-up bridging strategy between a full atomistic model and a coarse-grained (CG) model. Our trained CG model is capable of incorporating the atomistic scale local deformations of each CNT to the larger scale collect behavior of bundles, which enables the model to accurately predict the effect of lateral pressure on larger CNT bundles and yarns. The developed multiscale CG model is implemented to study the effect of lateral pressure on the shear strength of straight polymer coated CNT yarns, and also the effect of twisting on the pull-out force of bundles in spun CNT yarns.

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