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Mechanics of buckled carbon nanotubes on elastomeric substrates

Jianliang Xiao's picture

We have studied the scaling of controlled nonlinear buckling processes in materials with dimensions in the molecular range (i.e., ~1 nm) through experimental and theoretical studies of buckling in individual single-wall carbon nanotubes on substrates of poly(dimethylsiloxane). The results show not only the ability to create and manipulate patterns of buckling at these molecular scales, but also, that analytical continuum mechanics theory can explain, quantitatively, all measurable aspects of this system. Inverse calculation applied to measurements of diameterdependent buckling wavelengths yields accurate values of the Young’s moduli of individual SWNTs. As an example of the value of this system beyond its use in this type of molecular scale metrology, we implement parallel arrays of buckled SWNTs as a class of mechanically stretchable conductor.

Simple expressions of the buckle wavelength and amplitude and the critical strain for buckling are obtained analytically. For single-walled CNTs, the wavelength is proportional to the CNT radius to the 3/4 power, while it increases linearly with the number of walls for multiwalled CNTs. For two parallel CNTs on the surface of the elastomeric substrate, there exists a critical spacing below which the two CNTs interact and buckle together, adopting the same wavelength. This cobuckling wavelength is very close to the wavelength for the larger CNT to buckle independently, i.e., the larger tube dominates the coupled buckling.

Dahl-Young Khang, Jianliang Xiao, Coskun Kocabas, Scott Maclaren, Tony Banks, Hanqing Jiang, Yonggang Y. Huang, and John A. Rogers, Molecular Scale Buckling Mechanics in Individual, Aligned Single-Wall Carbon Nanotubes on Elastomeric Substrates. Nano Lett. 8, 124-130 (2008)

J. Xiao, H. Jiang, D.–Y. Khang, J. Wu, Y. Huang, and J.A. Rogers, Mechanics of buckled carbon nanotubes on elastomeric substrates. J. Appl. Phys. 104, 033543(2008)

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