Indentation Tests Reveal Geometry-Regulated Stiffening of Nanotube Junctions

S Ozden and Y Yang and CS Tiwary and S Bhowmick and S Asif and ES Penev and BI Yakobson and PM Ajayan, NANO LETTERS, 16, 232-236 (2016).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b03607

Here we report a unique method to locally determine the mechanical response of individual covalent junctions between carbon nanotubes (CNTs), in various configurations such as "X", "Y", and "A"-like. The setup is based on in situ indentation using a picoindenter integrated within a scanning electron microscope. This allows for precise mapping between junction geometry and mechanical behavior and uncovers geometry- regulated junction stiffening. Molecular dynamics simulations reveal that the dominant contribution to the nanoindentation response is due to the CNT walls stretching at the junction. Targeted synthesis of desired junction geometries can therefore provide a "structural alphabet" for construction of macroscopic CNT networks with tunable mechanical response.

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