Super-durable ultralong carbon nanotubes

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Science  28 Aug 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6507, pp. 1104-1106
DOI: 10.1126/science.aay5220

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Finding the source of their durability

Many high-strength materials can fail after repeated exposure to subcritical loading; therefore, understanding the causes of fatigue is key to extending the longevity of the material in use. Bai et al. used chemical vapor deposition to produce centimeter-long carbon nanotubes. They then decorated these nanotubes with titanium dioxide nanoparticles for optical visualization and studied them using noncontact acoustic resonance tests. The authors determined that fatigue lifetime is dependent on the formation of the first defects on straining and is higher at lower temperatures.

Science, this issue p. 1104


Fatigue resistance is a key property of the service lifetime of structural materials. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are one of the strongest materials ever discovered, but measuring their fatigue resistance is a challenge because of their size and the lack of effective measurement methods for such small samples. We developed a noncontact acoustic resonance test system for investigating the fatigue behavior of centimeter-long individual CNTs. We found that CNTs have excellent fatigue resistance, which is dependent on temperature, and that the time to fatigue fracture of CNTs is dominated by the time to creation of the first defect.

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