Improved mechanical performance of CNTs and CNT fibres in nanocomposites through inter-wall and inter-tube coupling

Michael A. McCarthy, Emmett M. Byrne, Nathan P. O'Brien, Tony Murmu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Citations (Scopus)


The exceptional mechanical properties of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) make them highly attractive as potential reinforcing constituents in next generation composites. CNTs can be used individually or in small bundles as toughening agents in matrices, or large, aligned bundles can be twisted into fibres (Cheng 2007; Zhang et al. 2007). However, in both applications a major drawback is the weak van der Waals forces between the walls of multi-walled CNTs (MWCNTs) and between individual tubes in CNT bundles. This makes for easy sliding between CNT walls and between CNTs in bundles, which drastically reduces their effective shear, bending, tensile and compressive properties. In this chapter we discuss the potential for addressing this deficiency through creation of inter-wall and/or inter-tube covalent bonds via irradiation with electrons or ions. The topic is addressed through an extensive series of Molecular Dynamics simulations as well as an analytical shear-lag model. We show that both inter-wall and inter-tube bonding can have highly beneficial effects on the mechanical properties of CNT-based nanocomposites. The benefits can significantly outweigh the detrimental effects of induced defects from the irradiation process.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationModeling of carbon nanotubes, graphene and their composites
EditorsK. Tserpes, N. Silvestre
PublisherSpringer International Publishing AG
Number of pages56
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-01201-8
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-01200-1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameSpringer Series in Materials Science


  • Multi-wall carbon nanotube
  • Nanotube fibre, nanocomposite
  • Inter-wall and inter-tube bonding
  • Load transfer
  • Structural properties
  • Molecular dynamics


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