You are on page 1of 5


This paper presents a critical review of the current work of experiment, theory of micro-nanomechanics, and numerical analysis on

characterizing mechanical properties of nan ocomposites. First, the classifications of nanomaterials are presented. Then nanoindentation testing and thecorresponding finite element modeling are discussed, followed by analytical modeling stiffness of nanocomposites. The analytical models discussed include Voigt and Reuss bounds, Hashin andShtrikman bounds, HalpinTsai model, Cox model, and various Mori and Tanaka models. These micromechanics models predict stiffness of nanocomposites with both aligned and randomly oriented fibers. The emphasis is on numerical modeling includes molecular dynamics modeling and finite element modeling. Three different approaches are discussed in finite element modeling, i.e. multiscale representative volume element (RVE) modeling, unit cell modeling, and objectoriented modeling. Finally, the mechanism of nanocomposite

mechanical property enhancement and the ways to improve stiffness and fracture toughness for nanocomposites are discussed. Keywords: Nanocomposites; Mechanical properties; Multiscale

modeling; Finite element analysis (FEA); Object-oriented modeling

Nanoscience and nanotechnology refer to the understanding and control of matter at the atomic, molecular or macromolecular levels, at the length scale of approximately 1 to 100 276 Hurang Hu, Landon Onyebueke, Ayo Abatan Vol.9, No.4 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable novel applications. Nanotechnologies are the design, characterization, production and application of structures, devices and systems by controlling shape and size at nanometer scale. According to Braun et al. [1], from 1980s, the growth of research papers dealing with the prefix called nano is exponential. Among all the work, characterizing and modeling mechanical properties of nanocomposites is one of the most important subjects. Nanocomposites are composite materials in which the matrix material is reinforced by one or more separate nanomaterials in order to improve performance properties. The most common materials used as matrix in nanocomposites are polymers (e.g. epoxy, nylon, polyepoxide, polyetherimide), ceramics (e.g. alumina, glass, porcelain), and metals (e.g. iron, titanium, magnesium). Nanomaterials are generally considered as the materials that have a characteristic dimension (e.g. grain size, diameter of cylindrical cross-section, layer thickness) smaller than 100 nm. Nanomaterials can be metallic, polymeric, ceramic, electronic, or composite. Nanomaterials are classified into three categories depending on their geometry, as shown in Fig. 1 [2,3]: 1. Nanoparticles: When the three dimensions of particulates are in the order of nanometers, they are referred as equi-axed (isodimensional) nanoparticles or nanogranules or nanocrystals. 2. Nanotubes: When two dimensions are in the nanometer scale and the third is larger, forming an elongated structure, they are generally referred as nanotubes or nanofibers/whiskers/nanorods.

3. Nanolayers: The particulates which are characterized by only one dimension in nanometer scale are nanolayers/nanoclays/nanosheets/nanoplatelets. These

particulate is present in the form of sheets of one to a few nanometer thick to hundreds to thousands nanometers long. The nanomaterials can also be distinguished in three types as natural, incidental, and engineered nanomaterials depending on their pathway [4]. Natural nanomaterials, which are formed through natural processes, occur in the environment (e.g. volcanic dust, lunar dust, magneto-tactic bacteria, minerals, etc.). Incidental nanomaterials occur as the result of man made industrial processes (e.g. coal combustion, welding fumes, etc.). Engineered nanomaterials are produced either by lithographically etching of a large sample to obtained nanoparticles, or by assembling smaller subunits through crystal growth or chemical synthesis to grow nanomaterials of the desired size and configuration. Engineered nanomaterials most often have regular shapes, such as tubes, spheres, rings, etc. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency divides engineered nanomaterials into four types. They are carbon-based materials (nanotubes, fullerenes), metalbased materials (including both metal oxides and quantum dots), dendrimers (nanosized

Synthesis, Microstructure and Mechanical Testing of Nanocomposites

A hybrid inorganic-polymer composite was formed by incorporating nanosize silica filler particles ( < 30 nm) to a nylon-6 matrix. The composites were microtomed and examined with TEM, which revealed that the silica particles were well dispersed and nonaggregated. Optimisation of the synthesis conditions relied on appropriate choice of organic solvent and pH control. Two types of samples were investigated: annealed thin films (70-200 m) and compression moulded disks (~1 mm) obtained by heat treatment of the aforementioned films. The degree of crystallinity was determined by wide-angle X-ray diffraction (WAXD) and the melting behaviour by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) measurements. The degree of crystallinity increased with low silica loadings (< 7 wt%) but upon further increasing filler wt%, the degree of crystallinity decreased, more dramatically for the thin films when compared to compression moulded samples. The effect of annealed vs. compression moulded processing conditions was studied with respect to phase transitions within the polymer. Compared to pure nylon-6, mechanical tests on the hybrid composite showed an increase in E-modulus as a function of filler percentage, and a strain-at-break of > 0.5.


Structures of Al-based nanocomposites of AlFe alloys prepared by mechanical alloying (MA) and subsequent annealing are compared with those obtained by rapid solidification processing (RSP). MA produced only supersaturated solid solution of Fe in Al up to 10 at.% Fe, while for higher Fe content up to 20 at.% the nonequilibrium intermetallic Al5Fe2 appeared. Subsequent annealing at 673 K resulted in more Al5Fe2 formation with very little coarsening. The equilibrium intermetallics, Al3Fe (Al13Fe4), was not observed even at this temperature. In contrast, ribbons of similar composition produced by RSP formed fine cellular or dendritic structure with nanosized dispersoids of possibly a nano-quasicrystalline phase and amorphous phase along with -Al depending on the Fe content in the alloys. This difference in the product structure can be attributed to the difference in alloying mechanisms in MA and RSP. Keywords. Nanocomposites; AlFe; mechanical alloying; rapid solidification; quasicrystalline.