Carbon nanotubes: do they toughen brittle matrices?

Johann Cho, Fawad Inam, Michael Reece, Zdeněk Chlup, Ivo Dlouhy, Milo Shaffer, Aldo Boccaccini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


The development of a model CNT-brittle matrix composite system, based on SiO2 glass containing well-dispersed CNTs at up to 15 wt%, allows a direct assessment of the effect of the nanoscale filler on fracture toughness (K IC). Samples were prepared by colloidal heterocoagulation followed by spark plasma sintering. Detailed K IC measurements, using both indentation and notched beam techniques, show a linear improvement with CNT content, with up to a twofold increase of fracture toughness at maximum loading. The results from the two methods used in this study show equivalent trends but differing absolute values; the relative merits of these two approaches to measuring nanocomposite toughness are compared. Possible toughening mechanisms associated with CNT pull-out, crack bridging, and crack deflection are identified, and discussed quantitatively, drawing on conventional short-fibre composite theory and the potential effects of scaling fibre diameter.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4770-4779
JournalJournal of Materials Science
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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