A cohesive law for carbon nanotube/polymer interfaces based on the van der Waals force

L. Y. Jiang, Y. Huang*, H. Jiang, G. Ravichandran, H. Gao, K. C. Hwang, B. Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

325 Scopus citations


We have established the cohesive law for interfaces between a carbon nanotube (CNT) and polymer that are not well bonded and are characterized by the van der Waals force. The tensile cohesive strength and cohesive energy are given in terms of the area density of carbon nanotube and volume density of polymer, as well as the parameters in the van der Waals force. For a CNT in an infinite polymer, the shear cohesive stress vanishes, and the tensile cohesive stress depends only on the opening displacement. For a CNT in a finite polymer matrix, the tensile cohesive stress remains the same, but the shear cohesive stress depends on both opening and sliding displacements, i.e., the tension/shear coupling. The simple, analytical expressions of the cohesive law are useful to study the interaction between CNT and polymer, such as in CNT-reinforced composites. The effect of polymer surface roughness on the cohesive law is also studied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2436-2452
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2006


  • Carbon nanotube composites
  • Carbon nanotube/polymer interface
  • Cohesive law
  • van der Waals force

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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