Understanding the Effect of Grain Boundaries on the Mechanical Properties of Epoxy/Graphene Composites

QY Ding and N Ding and XF Chen and WY Guo and F Zairi, POLYMERS, 15, 3218 (2023).

DOI: 10.3390/polym15153218

This work presents a molecular dynamics (MD) simulation study on the effect of grain boundaries (GBs) on the mechanical properties of epoxy/graphene composites. Ten types of GB models were constructed and comparisons were made for epoxy/graphene composites containing graphene with GBs. The results showed that the tensile and compressive behaviors, the glass transition temperature (T-g), and the configurations of epoxy/graphene composites were significantly affected by GBs. The tensile yield strength of epoxy/graphene composites could be either enhanced or weakened by GBs under a tensile load parallel to the graphene sheet. The underlying mechanisms may be attributed to multi- factor coupling, including the tensile strength of the reinforcements, the interfacial interaction energy, and the inflection degree of reinforcements. A balance exists among these effect factors, resulting in the diversity in the tensile yield strength of epoxy/graphene composites. The compressive yield strength for epoxy/graphene composites is higher than their counterpart in tension. The tensile/compressive yield strength for the same configuration presents diversity in different directions. Both an excellent interfacial interaction and the appropriate inflection degree of wrinkles for GB configurations restrict the translational and rotational movements of epoxy chains during volume expansion, which eventually improves the overall T-g. Understanding the reinforcing mechanism for graphene with GBs from the atomistic level provides new physical insights to material design for epoxy-based composites containing defective reinforcements.

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