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Micro-scale optimization design of nanotube reinforced composites for suppression of stress concentrations

By Qiang Liu (Department of Materials Engineering, KU Leuven)
Co-authors: Stepan V. Lomov (Department of Materials Engineering, KU Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 44 bus 2450, 3001 Leuven, Belgium)
Larissa Gorbatikh (Department of Materials Engineering, KU Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 44 bus 2450, 3001 Leuven, Belgium)

Keywords: carbon nanotubes, optimization design, stress concentration, genetic algorithm Abstract: The micro-scale morphology of carbon nanotube (CNT) networks in polymer nanocomposites has significant effects on the composite mechanical properties. In this work, an optimization-driven design framework was developed, with an objective to suppress stress concentrations in CNT nanocomposites at the micro-scale. The framework is based on the genetic algorithm (GA) combined with the finite element (FE) method. The micro-scale morphology of CNT assemblies was represented by spatial distribution and orientation of CNTs, which were considered as design variables of GA optimization. For any specific distribution and orientation of CNTs, morphological features were described by a two-scale model [1], and their effect on local stress concentrations in nanocomposites was predicted using FE analysis. By combining the GA optimization and FE analysis, we obtained an optimized micro-scale morphology of a CNT network that suppressed the microscopic stress concentrations compared to the case of the pure matrix and the matrix with uniformly distributed CNTs. In addition, the present study showed that the optimized CNT morphology was able to effectively redistribute the stress field and decrease the area with high-level stresses. The suppressing effect on stress concentration could be further enhanced by increasing CNT content. Acknowledgements The research leading to these results has received funding from KU Leuven in the framework of the PERMEA project. The authors are grateful to Dr. Valentin S. Romanov for the help in finite-element modelling of carbon nanotube assemblies. References [1] Romanov VS; Lomov SV, Verpoest I, Gorbatikh L, Modelling evidence of stress concentration mitigation at the micro-scale in polymer composites by the addition of carbon nanotubes (CARBON 82 (2015) 184 –194)

Ⓒ Photos:Toerisme Leuven