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Understanding the reinforcing ability of carbon nanotubes

Date:
January 30, 2015
Source:
National Institute for Materials Science
Summary:
A new article explores what is preventing the reinforcing ability of carbon nanotubes from being used in a ceramic matrix. Ever since their discovery, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have been considered the ultimate additive to improve the mechanical properties of structural ceramics, such as aluminum oxide, silicon nitride and zirconium dioxide. Yet despite the remarkable strength and stiffness of CNTs, many studies have reported only marginal improvements or even the degradation of mechanical properties after these super-materials were added.
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A new article explores what is preventing the reinforcing ability of carbon nanotubes from being used in a ceramic matrix.

Ever since their discovery, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have been considered the ultimate additive to improve the mechanical properties of structural ceramics, such as aluminum oxide, silicon nitride and zirconium dioxide. Yet despite the remarkable strength and stiffness of CNTs, many studies have reported only marginal improvements or even the degradation of mechanical properties after these super-materials were added. Indeed, the ability of CNTs to directly reinforce a ceramic material has been strongly questioned and debated in the last ten years.

So what's going on? In a review paper published in the journal Science and Technology of Advanced Materials, researchers at the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan explore what is preventing the reinforcing ability of CNTs from being exploited in a ceramic matrix.

The researchers list three fundamental questions, which must be addressed in order to examine and understand the direct reinforcing ability and mechanism of CNTs in a ceramic matrix:

1. Does the intrinsic load-bearing ability of CNTs change when embedded in a ceramic host matrix?

2. When there is an intimate atomic-level interface without any chemical reaction with the matrix, could one expect any load transfer to the CNTs?

3. Can CNTs -- which are nanoscale and flexible -- improve the mechanical properties of the matrix at the macroscale when individually, intimately and uniformly dispersed? If so, how?

The authors briefly review recent studies addressing the above questions. In particular, they discuss a recently discovered reinforcing mechanism at the nanoscale, which is responsible for unprecedented, simultaneous mechanical improvements including strengthening, toughening and softening of the ceramic host matrix. They also highlight a new processing method that enables the fabrication of defect-free CNT-concentrated ceramics and CNT-graded composites with unprecedented properties, for applications ranging from biomedical implants and tissue engineering to thermoelectric power generation.


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Materials provided by National Institute for Materials Science. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mehdi Estili, Yoshio Sakka. Recent advances in understanding the reinforcing ability and mechanism of carbon nanotubes in ceramic matrix composites. Science and Technology of Advanced Materials, 2014; 15 (6): 064902 DOI: 10.1088/1468-6996/15/6/064902

Cite This Page:

National Institute for Materials Science. "Understanding the reinforcing ability of carbon nanotubes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 January 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150130102545.htm>.
National Institute for Materials Science. (2015, January 30). Understanding the reinforcing ability of carbon nanotubes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150130102545.htm
National Institute for Materials Science. "Understanding the reinforcing ability of carbon nanotubes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150130102545.htm (accessed May 26, 2017).

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