A single degree of freedom 'lollipop' model for carbon nanotube bundle formation

S Cranford and HM Yao and C Ortiz and MJ Buehler, JOURNAL OF THE MECHANICS AND PHYSICS OF SOLIDS, 58, 409-427 (2010).

DOI: 10.1016/j.jmps.2009.11.002

Current carbon nanotube (CNT) synthesis methods include the production of ordered, free-standing vertically aligned arrays, the properties of which are partially governed by interactions between adjacent tubes. Using material parameters determined by atomistic methods, here we represent individual CNTs by a simple single degree of freedom 'lollipop' model to investigate the formation, mechanics, and self- organization of CNT bundles driven by weak van der Waals interactions. The computationally efficient simple single degree of freedom model enables us to study arrays consisting of hundreds of thousands of nanotubes. The effects of nanotube parameters such as aspect ratio, bending stiffness, and surface energy, on formation and bundle size, as well as the intentional manipulation of bundle pattern formation, are investigated. We report studies with both single wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) and double wall carbon nanotubes (DWCNTs) with varying aspect ratios (that is, varying height). We calculate the local density distributions of the nanotube bundles and show that there exists a maximum attainable bundle density regardless of an increase in surface energy for nanotubes with given spacing and stiffness. In addition to applications to CNTs, our model can also be applied to other types of nanotube arrays (e.g. protein nanotubes, polymer nanofilaments). (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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