Suppression of fatigue crack growth in carbon nanotube composites

  • Zhang W
  • Picu R
  • Koratkar N
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Fatigue is one of the primary causes for catastrophic failure in
structural materials. Here, we report an order-of-magnitude reduction
in the fatigue crack propagation rate for an epoxy system with the
addition of ~0.5 wt. % of carbon nanotube additives. Using fractography
analysis and fracture mechanics modeling, we show that the crack
suppression is caused by crack bridging, which results in an effective
crack-closing stress due to the pull out of nanotube fibers in the
wake of the crack tip. Carbon nanotubes therefore show potential
to significantly enhance the reliability and operating life of structural
polymers that are susceptible to fatigue failure.

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