Multiscale analysis of fracture of carbon nanotubes embedded in composites

Dong Li Shi, Xi Qiao Feng, Hanqing Jiang, Yonggang Y. Huang, Keh Chih Hwang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Due to the enormous difference in the scales involved in correlating the macroscopic properties with the micro- and nano-physical mechanisms of carbon nanotube-reinforced composites, multiscale mechanics analysis is of considerable interest. A hybrid atomistic/continuum mechanics method is established in the present paper to study the deformation and fracture behaviors of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in composites. The unit cell containing a CNT embedded in a matrix is divided in three regions, which are simulated by the atomic-potential method, the continuum method based on the modified Cauchy-Born rule, and the classical continuum mechanics, respectively. The effect of CNT interaction is taken into account via the Mori-Tanaka effective field method of micromechanics. This method not only can predict the formation of Stone-Wales (5-7-7-5) defects, but also simulate the subsequent deformation and fracture process of CNTs. It is found that the critical strain of defect nucleation in a CNT is sensitive to its chiral angle but not to its diameter. The critical strain of Stone-Wales defect formation of zigzag CNTs is nearly twice that of armchair CNTs. Due to the constraint effect of matrix, the CNTs embedded in a composite are easier to fracture in comparison with those not embedded. With the increase in the Young's modulus of the matrix, the critical breaking strain of CNTs decreases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-386
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Fracture
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbon nanotube
  • Fracture
  • Hybrid atomistic/continuum method
  • Nanocomposite
  • Stone-Wales transformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Mechanics of Materials


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