A kinematic study of energy barriers for crack formation in graphene tilt boundaries

M Daly and CV Singh, JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS, 115, 223513 (2014).

DOI: 10.1063/1.4883190

Recent experimental studies have observed a surprisingly wide range of strengths in polycrystalline graphene. Previous computational investigations of graphene tilt boundaries have highlighted the role of interfacial topology in determining mechanical properties. However, a rigorous characterization of deformation energy barriers is lacking, which precludes direct comparison to the available experimental data. In the current study, molecular dynamics tensile simulations are performed to quantify kinematic effects on failure initiation in a wide range of graphene tilt boundaries. Specifically, the process of crack formation is investigated to provide a conservative estimate of strength at experimental loading rates. Contrary to previous studies, significant strain rate sensitivity is observed, resulting in reductions of crack formation stresses on the order of 7% to 33%. Energy barriers for crack formation are calculated in the range of 0.58 to 2.07 eV based on an Arrhenius relation that is fit to the collected simulation data. Physically, the magnitude of energy barriers in graphene tilt boundaries is found to be linearly correlated to the pre-stress in the critical bonds. Predictions reported in the present study provide a possible explanation for the wide range of strengths experimentally observed in polycrystalline graphene and greatly improve upon current theoretical estimates. (C) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC.

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