Length-scale dependency of biomimetic hard-soft composites.
ABSTRACT: Biomimetic composites are usually made by combining hard and soft phases using, for example, multi-material additive manufacturing (AM). Like other fabrication methods, AM techniques are limited by the resolution of the device, hence, setting a minimum length scale. The effects of this length scale on the performance of hard-soft composites are not well understood. Here, we studied how this length scale affects the fracture toughness behavior of single-edge notched specimens made using random, semi-random, and ordered arrangements of the hard and soft phases with five different ratios of hard to soft phases. Increase in the length scale (40 to 960 ?m) was found to cause a four-fold drop in the fracture toughness. The effects of the length scale were also modulated by the arrangement and volumetric ratio of both phases. A decreased size of the crack tip plastic zone, a crack path going through the soft phase, and highly strained areas far from the crack tip were the main mechanisms explaining the drop of the fracture toughness with the length scale.
Project description:As an indispensible material for modern society, natural rubber possesses peerless mechanical properties such as strength and toughness over its artificial analogues, which remains a mystery. Intensive experimental and theoretical investigations have revealed the self-enhancement of natural rubber due to strain-induced crystallization. However a rigorous model on the self-enhancement, elucidating natural rubber's extraordinary mechanical properties, is obscured by deficient understanding of the local hierarchical structure under strain. With spatially resolved synchrotron radiation micro-beam scanning X-ray diffraction we discover weak oscillation in distributions of strain-induced crystallinity around crack tip for stretched natural rubber film, demonstrating a soft-hard double network structure. The fracture energy enhancement factor obtained by utilizing the double network model indicates an enhancement of toughness by 3 orders. It's proposed that upon stretching spontaneously developed double network structures integrating hierarchy at multi length-scale in natural rubber play an essential role in its remarkable mechanical performance.
Project description:Short fibers may serve as toughening agents of composite materials because of the high energy dissipated during fracture, associated with numerous fiber pullouts. An ongoing challenge is to improve their toughness even further, by directing and concentrating fibers near highly stressed structural regions. Weak magnetic fields are utilized to increase the fracture toughness of an epoxy matrix reinforced by short magnetized glass fibers by directing and concentrating fibers near highly stressed structural regions. The orientation and local concentration of the fibers are controlled by the vector components of the magnetic field, and by the gradient in field intensity, respectively. Optimized fracture toughness was achieved by using two pairs of permanent magnets, combining enhanced concentration of fibers in the crack-tip vicinity with alignment of the fibers along the load direction. This optimized value was well above the reference fracture-toughness measured for composites with the same filler content in the absence of a magnetic field, as well as above the value achieved by exploiting unidirectional alignment, without fiber translation, using a solenoid. The method suggested in this study-localized reinforcement using magnetic translation of fillers through the formation of magnetic gradients-enables efficient and controllable improvement in the composite's overall resistance to fracture, without the involvement of additional phases or material.
Project description:The functional gradient is a concept often occurring in nature. This concept can be implemented in the design and fabrication of advanced materials with specific functionalities and properties. Functionally graded materials (FGMs) can effectively eliminate the interface problems in extremely hard-soft connections, and, thus, have numerous and diverse applications in high-tech industries, such as those in biomedical and aerospace fields. Here, using voxel-based multi-material additive manufacturing (AM, = 3D printing) techniques, which works on the basis of material jetting, we studied the fracture behavior of functionally graded soft-hard composites with a pre-existing crack colinear with the gradient direction. We designed, additively manufactured, and mechanically tested the two main types of functionally graded composites, namely, composites with step-wise and continuous gradients. In addition, we changed the length of the transition zone between the hard and soft materials such that it covered 5%, 25%, 50%, or 100% of the width (W) of the specimens. The results showed that except for the fracture strain, the fracture properties of the graded specimens decreased as the length of the transition zone increased. Additionally, it was found that specimens with abrupt hard-soft transitions have significantly better fracture properties than those with continuous gradients. Among the composites with gradients, those with step-wise gradients showed a slightly better fracture resistance compared to those with continuous gradients. In contrast, FGMs with continuous gradients showed higher values of elastic stiffness and fracture energy, which makes each gradient function suitable for different loading scenarios. Moreover, regardless of the gradient function used in the design of the specimens, decreasing the length of the transition zone from 100%W to 5%W increased the fracture resistance of FGMs. We discuss the important underlying fracture mechanisms using data collected from digital image correlation (DIC), digital image microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), which were used to analyze the fracture surface.
Project description:Fracture toughness characterizes the ability of a material to maintain a certain level of strength despite the presence of a macroscopic crack. Understanding this tolerance for defects in soft collagenous tissues (SCT) has high relevance for assessing the risks of fracture after cutting, perforation or suturing. Here we investigate the peculiar toughening mechanisms of SCT through dedicated experiments and multi-scale simulations, showing that classical concepts of fracture mechanics are inadequate to quantify and explain the high defect tolerance of these materials. Our results demonstrate that SCT strength is only modestly reduced by defects as large as several millimeters. This defect tolerance is achieved despite a very narrow process zone at the crack tip and even for a network of brittle fibrils. The fracture mechanics concept of tearing energy fails in predicting failure at such defects, and its magnitude is shown to depend on the chemical potential of the liquid environment.
Project description:ZrB₂-based nanocomposites with and without carbon nanotubes (CNTs) as reinforcement were prepared at 1600 °C by spark plasma sintering. The effects of CNTs on the microstructure and mechanical properties of nano-ZrB₂ matrix composites were studied. The results indicated that adding CNTs can inhibit the abnormal grain growth of ZrB₂ grains and improve the fracture toughness of the composites. The toughness mechanisms were crack deflection, crack bridging, debonding, and pull-out of CNTs. The experimental results of the nanograined ZrB₂-CNTs composites were compared with those of the micro-grained ZrB₂-CNTs composites. Due to the small size and surface effects, the nanograined ZrB₂-CNTs composites exhibited stronger mechanical properties: the hardness, flexural strength and fracture toughness were 18.7 ± 0.2 GPa, 1016 ± 75 MPa, and 8.5 ± 0.4 MPa·m1/2, respectively.
Project description:In situ grown C0.3N0.7Ti and SiC, which derived from non-oxide additives Ti3SiC2, are proposed to densify silicon nitride (Si3N4) ceramics with enhanced mechanical performance via hot-press sintering. Remarkable increase of density from 79.20% to 95.48% could be achieved for Si3N4 ceramics with 5 vol.% Ti3SiC2 when sintered at 1600 °C. As expected, higher sintering temperature 1700 °C could further promote densification of Si3N4 ceramics filled with Ti3SiC2. The capillarity of decomposed Si from Ti3SiC2, and in situ reaction between nonstoichiometric TiCx and Si3N4 were believed to be responsible for densification of Si3N4 ceramics. An obvious enhancement of flexural strength and fracture toughness for Si3N4 with x vol.% Ti3SiC2 (x = 1~20) ceramics was observed. The maximum flexural strength of 795 MPa for Si3N4 composites with 5 vol.% Ti3SiC2 and maximum fracture toughness of 6.97 MPa·m1/2 for Si3N4 composites with 20 vol.% Ti3SiC2 are achieved via hot-press sintering at 1700 °C. Pull out of elongated Si3N4 grains, crack bridging, crack branching and crack deflection were demonstrated to dominate enhance fracture toughness of Si3N4 composites.
Project description:Accurate estimation of fracture behavior of commercial LiMn₂O₄ particles is of great importance to predict the performance and lifetime of a battery. The present study compares two different microscale techniques to quantify the fracture toughness of LiMn₂O₄ particles embedded in an epoxy matrix. The first technique uses focused ion beam (FIB) milled micro pillars that are subsequently tested using the nanoindentation technique. The pillar geometry, critical load at pillar failure, and cohesive FEM simulations are then used to compute the fracture toughness. The second technique relies on the use of atomic force microscopy (AFM) to measure the crack opening displacement (COD) and subsequent application of Irwin's near field theory to measure the mode-I crack tip toughness of the material. Results show pillar splitting method provides a fracture toughness value of ~0.24 MPa.m1/2, while COD measurements give a crack tip toughness of ~0.81 MPa.m1/2. The comparison of fracture toughness values with the estimated value on the reference LiMn₂O₄ wafer reveals that micro pillar technique provides measurements that are more reliable than the COD method. The difference is associated with ease of experimental setup, calculation simplicity, and little or no influence of external factors as associated with the COD measurements.
Project description:Fracture toughness measures the resistance of a material to fracture. This fundamental property is used in diverse engineering designs including mechanical, civil, materials, electronics and chemical engineering applications. In spite of the advancements made in the past 40 years, the evaluation of this remains challenging for extremely heterogeneous materials such as composite concretes. By taking advantage of the optical properties of a thin birefringent coating on the surface of opaque, notched composite concrete beams, here we sense the evolution of the maximum shear stress distribution on the beams under loading. The location of the maximum deviator stress is tracked ahead of the crack tip on the experimental concrete samples under the ultimate load, and hence the effective crack length is characterised. Using this, the fracture toughness of a number of heterogeneous composite beams is evaluated and the results compare favourably well with other conventional methods using combined experimental and numerical/analytical approaches. Finally a new model, correlating the optically measured shear stress concentration factor and flexural strength with the fracture toughness of concretes is proposed. The current photonics-based study could be vital in evaluating the fracture toughness of even opaque and complex heterogeneous materials more effectively in future.
Project description:Structural materials used for safety critical applications require high strength and simultaneously high resistance against crack growth, referred to as damage tolerance. However, the two properties typically exclude each other and research efforts towards ever stronger materials are hampered by drastic loss of fracture resistance. Therefore, future development of novel ultra-strong bulk materials requires a fundamental understanding of the toughness determining mechanisms. As model material we use today's strongest metallic bulk material, namely, a nanostructured pearlitic steel wire, and measured the fracture toughness on micron-sized specimens in different crack growth directions and found an unexpected strong anisotropy in the fracture resistance. Along the wire axis the material reveals ultra-high strength combined with so far unprecedented damage tolerance. We attribute this excellent property combination to the anisotropy in the fracture toughness inducing a high propensity for micro-crack formation parallel to the wire axis. This effect causes a local crack tip stress relaxation and enables the high fracture toughness without being detrimental to the material's strength.
Project description:Mechanical property and impact resistance mechanism of bionic layered composite was investigated. Due to light weight and high strength property, white clam shell was chosen as bionic model for design of bionic layered composite. The intercoupling model between hard layer and soft layer was identical to the layered microstructure and hardness tendency of the white clam shell, which connected the bionic design and fabrication. TiC-TiB₂ reinforced Al matrix composites fabricated from Al-Ti-B₄C system with 40 wt. %, 50 wt. % and 30 wt. % Al contents were treated as an outer layer, middle layer and inner layer in hard layers. Pure Al matrix was regarded as a soft layer. Compared with traditional homogenous Al-Ti-B₄C composite, bionic layered composite exhibited high mechanical properties including flexural strength, fracture toughness, compressive strength and impact toughness. The intercoupling effect of layered structure and combination model of hard and soft played a key role in high impact resistance of the bionic layered composite, proving the feasibility and practicability of the bionic model of a white clam shell.