Shear and friction between carbon nanotubes in bundles and yarns

Jeffrey T. Paci*, Al'Ona Furmanchuk, Horacio D. Espinosa, George C. Schatz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


We perform a detailed density functional theory assessment of the factors that determine shear interactions between carbon nanotubes (CNTs) within bundles and in related CNT and graphene structures including yarns, providing an explanation for the shear force measured in recent experiments (Filleter, T.etal. Nano Lett. 2012, 12, 732). The potential energy barriers separating AB stacked structures are found to be irrelevant to the shear analysis for bundles and yarns due to turbostratic stacking, and as a result, the tube-tube shear strength for pristine CNTs is estimated to be <0.24 MPa, that is, extremely small. Instead, it is pinning due to the presence of defects and functional groups at the tube ends that primarily cause resistance to shear when bundles are fractured in weak vacuum (∼10-5 Torr). Such defects and groups are estimated to involve 0.55 eV interaction energies on average, which is much larger than single-atom vacancy defects (approximately 0.039 eV). Furthermore, because graphitic materials are stiff they have large coherence lengths, and this means that push-pull effects result in force cancellation for vacancy and other defects that are internal to the CNTs. Another important factor is the softness of cantilever structures relative to the stiff CNTs in the experiments, as this contributes to elastic instability transitions that account for significant dissipation during shear that has been observed. The application of these results to the mechanical behavior of yarns is discussed, providing general guidelines for the manufacture of strong yarns composed of CNTs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6138-6147
Number of pages10
JournalNano letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 12 2014


  • Carbon nanotube shear
  • carbon nanotube fracture
  • carbon nanotube friction
  • high performance yarn
  • quantum mechanical modeling
  • super lubrication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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