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Mechanical properties of functionalized carbon nanotubes

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) used to reinforce polymer matrix composites are functionalized to form covalent bonds with the polymer in order to enhance the CNT/polymer interfaces. These bonds destroy the perfect atomic structures of a CNT and degrade its mechanical properties. We use atomistic simulations to study the effect of hydrogenization on the mechanical properties of single-wall carbon nanotubes. The elastic modulus of CNTs gradually decreases with the increasing functionalization (percentage of C–H bonds). However, both the strength and ductility drop sharply at a small percentage of functionalization, reflecting their sensitivity to C–H bonds. The cluster C–H bonds forming two rings leads to a significant reduction in the strength and ductility. The effect of carbonization has essentially the same effect as hydrogenization.

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