Multi-scale computational analysis of unidirectional carbon fiber reinforced polymer composites under various loading conditions

Qingping Sun, Zhaoxu Meng, Guowei Zhou, Shih Po Lin, Hongtae Kang, Sinan Keten*, Haiding Guo, Xuming Su

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


A multi-scale computational analysis based on representative volume element (RVE) modeling and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations is developed to investigate the microscopic failure mechanisms of unidirectional (UD) carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) composites. The average properties of the 200-nm thickness interphase region between fiber and matrix are characterized through MD simulations and an analytical gradient model. The results demonstrate that the interphase region has higher Young's modulus and strength, compared to the bulk matrix. This stiffened interphase region influences the composite response significantly. Specifically, the traditional two-phase model with zero-thickness interface fails to capture the stress-strain behavior compared to the experimental data. However, by adding the interphase region to a modified RVE model, the accuracy of simulation results will be improved significantly. Furthermore, a coupled experimental-computational micromechanics approach is adopted to calibrate and validate the cohesive parameters of the interface. By including the cohesive interface, our modified RVE model accurately captures the failure strength of the composites. Finally, different failure mechanisms for specimens are investigated using our multi-scale computational framework. The results show that the failure modes of UD CFRP composites are very complex and multiple failure mechanisms co-exist depending on the loading conditions, agreeing well with our experimental analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-43
Number of pages14
JournalComposite Structures
StatePublished - Jul 15 2018


  • Carbon fiber-reinforced polymer composites
  • Failure mechanism
  • Interphase
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Multi-scale analysis
  • Representative volume element

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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