Strength and Toughness of Composites


We are interested in predictive models of composite strength and damage mechanisms, at the micro/nano level, i.e. based on the properties of the fibers/reinforcements, matrix, and fiber/matrix interface behavior. The thrust of research in recent years has been on nanocomposites, primarily carbon nanotube (CNT) reinforcements and CNT-ceramic-matrix-composites. Our goal is to study imperfect CNTs, i.e. CNTs with defects and/or Multiwall-CNTs having mechanical coupling between the CNT walls, since these realistic aspects can be both detrimental and beneficial so that a full understanding of the net consequences can be developed.

Recent work is on theories for hybrid fiber composites, i.e. composites consisting of two types of fibers. In particular, we are interested in applications of theories for short-fiber composites to explain experiments and guide design in this important class of more-affordable composite materials.

Key papers:

  • Z. Xia, L. Reister, W. A. Curtin, B. Sheldon, J. Xu, “Direct Observation of Toughening Mechanisms in Carbon Nanotube Ceramic Matrix Composites”, Acta Mater. 52, 931-944 (2004)
  • Z. Xia and W. A. Curtin, ”Pullout Forces and Friction in Multiwall Carbon Nanotubes”, Phys. Rev. B 69, 233408 (2004).
  • E. M. Byrne, M. A. McCarthy, Z. Xia, and W. A. Curtin, “Multiwall nanotubes can be stronger than single wall nanotubes and implications for nanocomposite design”, Phys. Rev. Lett. 103, #045502 (2009).
  • C. J. Boehlert, S. Tamirisakandala, W. A. Curtin, and D. B. Miracle, “Assessment of in-situ TiB whisker tensile strength and optimization of TiB-reinforced titanium alloy design”, Scr. Mater. 61, 245-248 (2009).
  • F. Pavia and W. A. Curtin, “Optimizing Strength and Toughness of Nanofiber-reinforced CMCs”, JMPS 60, 1688-1702 (2012).

Key older papers:

  • W. A. Curtin, “Theory of the Mechanical Properties of Ceramic Matrix Composites”, J. Am. Cer. Soc. 74, 2837-2845 (1991).
  • W. A. Curtin, “Ultimate Strengths of Fiber-Reinforced Ceramics and Metals”, Composites 24, 98-102 (1993).
  • W. A. Curtin and S. J. Zhou, “Influence of Processing Damage on Performance of Fiber-Reinforced Composites”, J. Mech. Phys. Solids 43, 343-363 (1995).
  • S. J. Zhou and W. A. Curtin, “Failure in Fiber Composites: a Lattice Greens Function Model”, Acta Met. 43, 3093-3104 (1995).
  • M. Ibnabdeljalil and W. A. Curtin, “Strength and Reliability of Fiber-reinforced Composites: Local Load Sharing and Associated Size Effects”, Intl. J. Solids and Structures 34, 2649-2668 (1997).
  • W. A. Curtin, B. K. Ahn, and N. Takeda, “Modeling Brittle and Tough Behavior in Ceramic Matrix Composites”, Acta Mater. 46, 3409-3420 (1998).
  • W. A. Curtin and N. Takeda, “Tensile Strength of Fiber-reinforced Composites: I. Model and Effects of Local Fiber Geometry”, J. Comp. Matls. 32, 2042-2059 (1998).
  • W. A. Curtin and N. Takeda, “Tensile Strength of Fiber-reinforced Composites: II. Application to Polymer Matrix Composites”, J. Comp. Matls. 32, 2060-2081 (1998).
  • Z. H. Xia, W. A. Curtin, and P. Pieters, “Multiscale Modeling of Failure in Metal Matrix Composites”, Acta Mater. 49, 273-287 (2001).

Additional work:

  • F. Pavia and W. A. Curtin, Fracture of CNT-based Ceramic Composites, JMPS (2013).
  • F. Pavia, A. Letertre, and W. A. Curtin, “Prediction of first matrix cracking in micro/nanohybrid brittle matrix composites”, Comp. Sci. Tech. 70, 916-921 (2010).
  • E. Byrne, A. Letertre, M. McCarthy, W. A. Curtin, Z. Xia, “Load transfer in multiwall carbon nanotubes”, Acta Mater. 58, 6324-6333 (2010).
  • F. Pavia and W. A. Curtin, “Interfacial sliding in carbon nanotube/diamond matrix composites”, Acta Mater. 59, 6700-6709 (2011).
  • N. O’Brien, W. A. Curtin, M. McCarthy, “A theoretical quantification of the possible improvement in the mechanical properties of carbon nanotube bundles by carbon ion irradiation”, Carbon 53, 346-356 (2013).
  • N. O’Brien, W. A. Curtin, M. McCarthy, Improved inter-tube coupling in CNT bundles through carbon ion irradiation”, Carbon 51, 173-184 (2013).
  • E. Byrne, M. McCarthy, and W. A. Curtin, Pullout of wavy CNTs, J. Composites, part A (2014).