Tailoring nanocomposite interfaces with graphene to achieve high strength and toughness

The weak interfacial interaction between nanofillers and matrix nanocomposites during materials engineering have caused nanofiller reinforcing effects to be far below the theoretically predicted values. In a new report now published on Science Advances, Ningning Song, and a team of scientists at the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Virginia, U.S., demonstrated graphene-wrapped boron carbide (B4C) nanowires (B4C-NWs@graphene). The constructs empowered exceptional dispersion of nanowires in the matrix and contributed to superlative nanowire-matrix bonding. The B4C-NWs@graphene constructs reinforced epoxy composites and showed simultaneous enhancement in strength, elastic modulus and ductility. By using graphene to tailor the composite interfaces, Song et al. effectively used the nanofillers to increase the load transfer efficiency by two-fold. They used molecular dynamics simulations to unlock the shear mixing self-assembly mechanism of the graphene/nanowire construct. The low-cost technique opens a new path to develop strong and tough nanocomposites to improve interfaces and allow efficient high load transfer.
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