Measurement of the critical aspect ratio and interfacial shear strength in MWNT/polymer composites

Renée K. Duncan, Xinyu G. Chen, J. B. Bult, L. C. Brinson, L. S. Schadler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


This paper presents a bulk composite method for determining the critical aspect ratio and relative interfacial shear stress (ISS) for multiwalled carbon nanotube (MWNT)/polymer composites. Through a modified pullout test and fragmentation test, it was found that the critical aspect ratio was 300 and decreased by a factor of 3 due to surface modification, and that MWNTs at an angle of greater than 60° to the loading direction failed in bending instead of pulling out of the matrix. Finite element analysis was used to determine the critical bending shear strength and MWNT modulus. The obtained bending shear strength was used in a mechanics model developed to provide bounds for the ISS in the experimental composite system. The calculated ISS for as-received nanotube falls between 4.8 and 13.7 MPa, and for surface treated nanotube falls in the range of 11.1 and 38.3 MPa. These values are consistent with the ISS reported for carbon fiber/polymer composites and also show that the ISS almost triples due to chemical modification of the MWNT surface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)599-605
Number of pages7
JournalComposites Science and Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • A. Polymer matrix composites
  • B. Fragmentation
  • B. Interfacial strength
  • B. Mechanical properties
  • Carbon nanotubes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • General Engineering


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