Interfacial Fracture Mechanism between Advanced Composites and Cementitious Materials: From Atoms to Civil Infrastructures

Project: Research

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Material interface is present in various applications ranging from nanoscale components, such as thin films in circuit boards, to macroscale structures, such as adhesive bonding in civil infrastructures. In many engineering applications, the integrity of the interface under various environmental conditions is critical to the performance of the entire material system. Thus, considerable efforts have been devoted to developing mechanics approaches for understanding interfacial fracture and debonding mechanisms. Analytical and empirical approaches based on classical methods are generally limited in predicting crack propagation at the interface when chemical effects are involved. Molecular dynamics simulation appears to be a potential and robust approach enabling us to study the material interaction at nanoscale which can capture the possible physical and chemical interactions along the interface, and hence such approach is particularly useful for investigating the complex interfacial fracture under the moisture and temperature effect, i.e. the durability of the bonded system. Water molecules may attack the weak bonds at the interface, or alter the molecular structure of substrates, resulting in weakened adhesive and cohesive strengths. In some cases, such as structural strengthening application, debonding failure can lead to disastrous results.This proposed research is motivated from the broad engineering applications of organic-inorganic material systems which require an accurate prediction of the mechanical properties in various length scales. The objective of this research is first to under the material behavior in the vicinity of the interface at different length scales, using advanced composites and cement hydrates as a representative system, and then linking these length scales through a multiscale framework eventually allowing us to connect the atomistic level development to the macroscale engineering analysis, with the consideration of moisture and temperature effects.It is envisioned that the proposed work will introduce a new paradigm in engineering analysis of complex systems in a similar manner that the finite element method has once provided the opportunity for powerful analysis of structures. Development of this methodology will bring a broader impact to the civil engineering community, ensuring public safety against unanticipated failure due to debonding. Also, such methodology can be extended to general organic-inorganic systems including the bond between a temporary replacement crown and enamel. Knowledge and approach developed in this project will be integrated into education via course curricula and made available for public through PI’s website. Every effort will be made to involve undergraduate and female students in the conduct of the proposed research.


Project number9041989
Grant typeECS
Effective start/end date1/09/1330/08/17