Multiscale Modeling of CNT-Polymer Nanocomposites and Fuzzy Fiber Reinforced Polymer Composites for Strain and Damage Sensing
It has been observed that carbon nanotube (CNT)-polymer nanocomposite material has observable piezoresistive effect, that is to say that changes in applied strain may induce measurable changes in resistance. The first focus of the work is on modeling the piezoresistive response of the CNT-polymer nanocomposites by using computational micromechanics techniques based on finite element analysis. The in-plane, axial, the three dimensional piezoresistive responses of the CNT-polymer nanocomposites are studied by using 2D, axisymmetric, and 3D electromechanically coupled and multiscale finite element models. The microscale mechanisms that may have a substantial influence on the overall piezoresistivity of the nanocomposites, i.e. the electrical tunneling effect and the inherent piezoresistivity of the CNT, are included in microscale RVEs in order to understand their influence on macroscale piezoresistive response in terms of both the normalized change in effective resistivity and the corresponding effective gauge factor under applied strain. The computational results are used to better understand the driving mechanisms for the observed piezoresistive response of the material. The second focus of the work is on modeling the piezoresistive response of fuzzy fiber reinforced polymer composites by applying a 3D multiscale micromechanics model based on finite element analysis. Through explicitly accounting for the local piezoresistive response of the anisotropic interphase region, the piezoresistive responses of the overall fuzzy fiber reinforced polymer composites are obtained. The modeling results not only provide a possible explanation for the small gauge factors as observed in experiments, but also give guidance for the manufacture of fuzzy fiber reinforced polymer composites in order to achieve large, consistent, and predictable gauge factors. The third focus of the work is on modeling the coupled effect between continuum damage and piezoresistivity in the CNT-polymer nanocomposites by using computational micromechanics techniques based on a concurrent multiscale finite element analysis. The results show that there is a good correlation between continuum damage and piezoresistive response of the nanocomposites, which gives theoretical and modeling support for the use of CNT-polymer nanocomposites in structural health monitoring (SHM) applications for damage detections.