Computational and Experimental Nano Mechanics

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Virginia Tech

The many advances of nano technology extensively revolutionize mechanics. A tremendous need is growing to further bridge the gap between the classical mechanics and the nano scale for many applications at different engineering fields. For instance, the themes of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary topics are getting more and more attention especially when the coherency is needed in diagnosing and treating terminal diseases or overcoming environmental threats. The fact that how mechanical, biomedical and electrical engineering can contribute to diagnosing and treating a tumor per se is both interesting and unveiling the necessity of further investments in these fields. This dissertation presents three different investigations in the area of nano mechanics and nano materials spanning from computational bioengineering to making mechanically more versatile composites.

The first part of this dissertation presents a numerical approach to study the effects of the carbon nano tubes (CNTs) on the human body in general and their absorbability into the lipid cell membranes in particular. Single wall carbon nano tubes (SWCNTs) are the elaborate examples of nano materials that departed from mere mechanical applications to the biomedical applications such as drug delivery vehicles. Recently, experimental biology provided detailed insights of the SWCNTs interaction with live organs. However, due to the instrumental and technical limitations, there are still numerous concerns yet to be addressed. In such situation, utilizing numerical simulation is a viable alternative to the experimental practices. From this perspective, this dissertation reports a molecular dynamics (MD) study to provide better insights on the effect of the carbon nano tubes chiralities and aspect ratios on their interaction with a lipid bilayer membrane as well as their reciprocal effects with surface functionalizing. Single walled carbon nano tubes can be utilized to diffuse selectively on the targeted cell via surface functionalizing. Many experimental attempts have smeared polyethylene glycol (PEG) as a biocompatible surfactant to carbon nano tubes. The simulation results indicated that SWCNTs have different time-evolving mechanisms to internalize within the lipid membrane. These mechanisms comprise both penetration and endocytosis. Also, this study revealed effects of length and chirality and surface functionalizing on the penetrability of different nano tubes.

The second part of the dissertation introduces a novel in situ method for qualitative and quantitative measurements of the negative stiffness of a single crystal utilizing nano mechanical characterization; nano indentation. The concept of negative stiffness was first introduced by metastable structures and later by materials with negative stiffness when embedded in a stiffer (positive stiffness) matrix. However, this is the first time a direct quantitative method is developed to measure the exact value of the negative stiffness for triglycine sulfate (TGS) crystals. With the advancements in the precise measuring devices and sensors, instrumented nano indentation became a reliable tool for measuring submicron properties of variety of materials ranging from single phase humongous materials to nano composites with heterogeneous microstructures. The developed approach in this chapter of the dissertation outlines how some modifications of the standard nano indentation tests can be utilized to measure the negative stiffness of a ferroelectric material at its Curie temperature.

Finally, the last two chapters outline the possible improvements in the mechanical properties of conventional carbon fiber composites by introducing 1D nano fillers to them. Particularly, their viscoelastic and viscoplastic behavior are studied extensively and different modeling techniques are utilized. Conventional structural materials are being replaced with the fiber-reinforced plastics (FRPs) in many different applications such as civil structures or aerospace and car industries. This is mainly due to their high strength to weight ratio and relatively easy fabrication methods. However, these composites did not reach their full potential due to durability limitations. The majorities of these limitations stem from the polymeric matrix or the interface between the matrix and fibers where poor adhesion fails to carry the desired mechanical loadings. Among such failures are the time-induced deformations or delayed failures that can cause fatal disasters if not taken care of properly. Many methodologies are offered so far to improve the FRPs' resistance to this category of time-induced deformations and delayed failures. Several researchers tried to modify the chemical formulation of polymers coming up with stiffer and less viscous matrices. Others tried to modify the adhesion of the fibers to the matrix by adding different chemically functional groups onto the fibers' surface. A third approach tried to modify the fiber to matrix adhesion and at the same time improve the viscous properties of the matrix itself. This can be achieved by growing 1D nano fillers on the fibers so that one side is bonded to the fiber and the other side embedded in the matrix enhancing the matrix with less viscous deformability. It is shown that resistance to creep deformation and stress relaxation of laminated composites improved considerably in the presence of the nano fillers such as multiwall carbon nano tubes (MWCNTs) and zinc oxide nano wires (ZnO- NWs). The constitutive behaviors of these hybrid composites were investigated further through the use of the time temperatures superposition (TTS) principle for the linear viscoelastic behavior and utilizing phenomenological models for the viscoplastic behavior.

Carbon nano tubes, ZnO nano rods, Viscoelasticity, Viscoplasticity, molecular dynamics, nano composites, nano characterization, lipid cell membrane