Mechanics of Platelet-Matrix Composites across Scales: Theory, Multiscale Modeling, and 3D Fabrication
Doctor of Philosophy
Many natural and biomimetic composites - such as nacre, silk and clay-polymer - exhibit a remarkable balance of strength, toughness, and/or stiffness, which call for a universal measure to quantify this outstanding feature given the platelet-matrix structure and material characteristics of the constituents. Analogously, there is an urgent need to quantify the mechanics of emerging electronic and photonic systems such as stacked heterostructures, which are composed of strong in-plane bonding networks but weak interplanar bonding matrices. In this regard, development of a universal composition-structure-property map for natural platelet-matrix composites, and stacked heterostructures opens up new doors for designing materials with superior mechanical performance. In this dissertation, a multiscale bottom-up approach is adopted to analyze and predict the mechanical properties of platelet-matrix composites. Design guidelines are provided by developing universally valid (across different length scales) diagrams for science-based engineering of numerous natural and synthetic platelet-matrix composites and stacked heterostructures while significantly broadening the spectrum of strategies for fabricating new composites with specific and optimized mechanical properties. First, molecular dynamics simulations are utilized to unravel the fundamental underlying physics and chemistry of the binding nature at the atomic-level interface of organic-inorganic composites. Polymer-cementitious composites are considered as case studies to understand bonding mechanism at the nanoscale and open up new venues for potential mechanical enhancement at the macro-scale. Next, sophisticated mathematical derivations based on elasticity and plasticity theories are presented to describe pre-crack (intrinsic) mechanical performance of platelet-matrix composites at the microscale. These derivations lead to developing a unified framework to construct series of universal composition-structure-property maps that decode the interplay between various geometries and inherent material features, encapsulated in a few dimensionless parameters. Finally, after crack mechanical properties (extrinsic) of platelet-matrix composites until ultimate failure of the material at the macroscale is investigated via combinatorial finite element simulations. The effect of different composition-structure-property parameters on mechanical properties synergies are depicted via 2D and 3D maps. 3D-printed specimens are fabricated and tested against the theoretical prediction. The combination of the presented diagrams and guidelines paves the path toward platelet-matrix composites and stacked-heterostructures with superior and optimized mechanical properties.