A monofilament fiber spun from individual carbon nanotubes is an arbitrarily long ensemble of weakly interacting, aligned, discrete nanoparticles. Despite the structural resemblance of carbon nanotube monofilament fibers to crystalline polymeric fibers, very little is known about their dynamic collective mechanics, which arise from van der Waals interactions among the individual carbon nanotubes. Using ultrafast stroboscopic microscopy, we study the collective dynamics of carbon nanotube fibers and compare them directly with nylon, Kevlar, and aluminum monofilament fibers under the same supersonic impact conditions. The in situ dynamics and kinetic parameters of the fibers show that the kinetic energy absorption characteristics of the carbon nanotube fibers surpass all other fibers. This study provides insight into the strain-rate-dependent strengthening mechanics of an ensemble of nanomaterials for the development of high-performance fibers used in body armor and other protective nanomaterials possessing exceptional stability in various harsh environments.
Nano Lett., Article ASAP
Publication Date (Web): May 14, 2019