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Multi-scale numerical simulations of thermal expansion properties of CNT-reinforced nanocomposites

Alamusi1, Ning Hu12*, Jianhui Qiu3, Yuan Li4, Christiana Chang5, Satoshi Atobe6, Hisao Fukunaga6, Yaolu Liu1, Huiming Ning1, Liangke Wu1, Jinhua Li1, Weifeng Yuan2, Tomonori Watanabe1, Cheng Yan7 and Yajun Zhang8

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Mechanical Engineering, Chiba University, Yayoi-cho 1-33, Inage-ku, Chiba, 263-8522, Japan

2 School of Manufacturing Science and Engineering, Southwest University of Science and Technology, 59 Qinglong Road, Mianyang, 621010, People's Republic of China

3 Department of Machine Intelligence and Systems Engineering, Akita Prefectural University, Akita, 015-0055, Japan

4 Department of Nanomechanics, Tohoku University, 6-6-01 Aramaki-Aza-Aoba, Aoba-ku, Sendai, 980-8579, Japan

5 Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun Road, Houston, TX, 77004, USA

6 Department of Aerospace Engineering, Tohoku University, 6-6-01 Aramaki-Aza-Aoba, Aoba-ku, Sendai, 980-8579, Japan

7 School of Engineering Systems, Queensland University of Technology, 2 George Street, GPO Box 2434, Brisbane, 4001, Australia

8 College of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Beijing University of Chemical Technology, Beijing, 100029, People's Republic of China

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2013, 8:15  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-8-15

Published: 7 January 2013


In this work, the thermal expansion properties of carbon nanotube (CNT)-reinforced nanocomposites with CNT content ranging from 1 to 15 wt% were evaluated using a multi-scale numerical approach, in which the effects of two parameters, i.e., temperature and CNT content, were investigated extensively. For all CNT contents, the obtained results clearly revealed that within a wide low-temperature range (30°C ~ 62°C), thermal contraction is observed, while thermal expansion occurs in a high-temperature range (62°C ~ 120°C). It was found that at any specified CNT content, the thermal expansion properties vary with temperature - as temperature increases, the thermal expansion rate increases linearly. However, at a specified temperature, the absolute value of the thermal expansion rate decreases nonlinearly as the CNT content increases. Moreover, the results provided by the present multi-scale numerical model were in good agreement with those obtained from the corresponding theoretical analyses and experimental measurements in this work, which indicates that this multi-scale numerical approach provides a powerful tool to evaluate the thermal expansion properties of any type of CNT/polymer nanocomposites and therefore promotes the understanding on the thermal behaviors of CNT/polymer nanocomposites for their applications in temperature sensors, nanoelectronics devices, etc.

Polymer-matrix composites (PMC); Thermal properties; Numerical analysis; Carbon nanotube (CNT)