Nanocomposites : a study of theoretical micromechanical behavior using finite element analysis
Milliren, Eric Carlton
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Current research in nanotechnology has produced an increasing number of possibilities for advanced materials. Among those materials with potential advanced mechanical properties are fiber-reinforced composite laminates that utilize nanoscale fiber diameters. Through a combination of studying classic micromechanical models and modern computer-aided finite element analysis (FEA), the advantages for utilizing these nanofibers in advanced structural applications, such as space mirror backings, was investigated. The approach for modeling these composite structures was that of a Representative Volume Element (RVE). Using the program ABAQUS/CAE, a RVE was created with the goals of accurately comparing to the shear lag theory, effectively incorporating "interphase" zones that bond the constituents, and demonstrating effects of down-scaling fiber diameter. In this thesis, the progression of the ABAQUS model is thoroughly covered as it developed into a verified model correlating with the shear lag theory. The model produced was capable of utilizing interphase if desired, and was capable of off-axis loading scenarios. A MathCAD program was written in order to employ the published theoretical techniques, which were then compared to the FEA results for verification. The FEA model was found to work well in conjunction with the theory explored using MathCAD, after which the nanofiber FEA model showed some clear advantages over a conventional-sized model, specifically an increase in strength of the composite RVE. Finally, it was determined that the interfacial bonding strength plays a large role in the structure of the interphase zone, and thus the overall strength of the composite.