Mechanical Performance of Graphene-Based Artificial Nacres under Impact Loads: A Coarse-Grained Molecular Dynamic Study

N Liu and R Pidaparti and XQ Wang, POLYMERS, 9, 134 (2017).

DOI: 10.3390/polym9040134

Inspired by the hierarchical structure and outstanding mechanical performance of biological nacre, we propose a similar multi-layered graphene-polyethylene nanocomposite as a possible lightweight material with energy-absorbing characteristics. Through coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations, we study the mechanical performance of the nanocomposite under spall loading. Results indicate that the polymer phase can serve as a cushion upon impact, which substantially decreases maximum contact forces and thus inhibits the breakage of covalent bonds in the graphene flakes. In addition, as the overlap distance in graphene layers increases, the energy absorption capacity of the model increases. Furthermore, the polymer phase can serve as a shield upon impact to protect the graphene phase from aggregation. The dependence of mechanical response on the size of impactors is also explored. Results indicate that the maximum contact force during the impact depends on the external surface area of impactors rather than the density of impactors and that the energy absorption for all model impactors is very similar. Overall, our findings can provide a systematic understanding of the mechanical responses on graphene-polyethylene nanocomposites under spall loads.

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