Strengthening effect of single-atomic-layer graphene in metal-graphene nanolayered composites

Y Kim and J Lee and MS Yeom and JW Shin and H Kim and Y Cui and JW Kysar and J Hone and Y Jung and S Jeon and SM Han, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 4, 2114 (2013).

DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3114

Graphene is a single-atomic-layer material with excellent mechanical properties and has the potential to enhance the strength of composites. Its two-dimensional geometry, high intrinsic strength and modulus can effectively constrain dislocation motion, resulting in the significant strengthening of metals. Here we demonstrate a new material design in the form of a nanolayered composite consisting of alternating layers of metal (copper or nickel) and monolayer graphene that has ultra-high strengths of 1.5 and 4.0 GPa for copper-graphene with 70-nm repeat layer spacing and nickel-graphene with 100-nm repeat layer spacing, respectively. The ultra-high strengths of these metal-graphene nanolayered structures indicate the effectiveness of graphene in blocking dislocation propagation across the metal-graphene interface. Ex situ and in situ transmission electron microscopy compression tests and molecular dynamics simulations confirm a build-up of dislocations at the graphene interface.

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