Research Papers

Nanoscale Structural and Mechanical Characterization of MWCNT-Reinforced Polymer Composites

[+] Author and Article Information
Wyatt Leininger, Xinnan Wang, Marshall McNea

 Department of Mechanical Engineering, North Dakota State University, Dept 2490, P.O. Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108

X. W. Tangpong1

 Department of Mechanical Engineering, North Dakota State University, Dept 2490, P.O. Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108annie.tangpong@ndsu.edu


Corresponding author.

J. Eng. Mater. Technol 134(2), 021011 (Mar 27, 2012) (6 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4005919 History: Received August 29, 2011; Revised January 05, 2012; Published March 26, 2012; Online March 27, 2012

In this study, the elastic modulus of 1 wt. % multiwalled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) reinforced epoxy composite was characterized using an in-house designed micro/nano tensile load stage in conjunction with an atomic force microscope (AFM). The surface of the nanocomposite was scanned by the AFM during intermittent tensile testing, and micro/nanoscale deformation was observed. The MWCNT reinforced nanocomposite exhibited a 23% increase in the measured elastic modulus compared with the pure epoxy. The elastic moduli of the nanocomposite were also predicted by the Halpin–Tsai and Hui–Shia models, and the former offered a better correlation with the experimental result when only the load bearing outer layer of the MWCNTs was considered. The combination of the load stage and AFM is capable of capturing the in situ deformation progress for small strain increments.

Copyright © 2012 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Schematic of the shaped side sample mold

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Figure 2

Critical sample dimensions (unit: in.)

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Figure 3

The micro/nano tensile load stage mounted on the AFM. (a) AFM scanner, (b) AFM CCD camera, (c) test specimen, and (d) micro/nano tensile load stage.

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Figure 4

Schematic representation of the load (F), elastic moduli E11 and E22 orientations

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Figure 5

SEM image of a representative MWCNT on the surface of a test specimen

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Figure 6

Representative stress–strain curves of epoxy and 1 wt. % MWCNT composite samples, with the linear curve fitting of elastic modulus. Tests were performed at a continuous strain rate of 0.001.

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Figure 7

AFM amplitude images of MWCNT composite sample at varying degrees of deformation. The origin in the upper left represents the features used to reference images at each applied strain interval. (a) strain: 0, (b) strain: 0.0035, and (c) strain: 0.008.

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Figure 8

Post fracture paths of (a) a neat epoxy sample and (b) an MWCNT–epoxy sample captured by the AFM CCD camera with a magnification of 800 × 

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Figure 9

(a) A newly initiated crack within the sample, ending within the highlighted region indicated. (b) Crack progression from (a) after strain increase, showing a deviation around features present at the end of the crack in (a).



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