Morphology of graphene flakes in Ni-graphene nanocomposites and its influence on hardness: An atomistic study

VH Vardanyan and HM Urbassek, CARBON, 185, 660-668 (2021).

DOI: 10.1016/j.carbon.2021.09.065

The effect of graphene flakes on the strength of Ni-graphene composites is investigated using molecular dynamics simulation. Rather than introducing flakes as flat structures into the Ni matrix, as it is common in available studies, we introduce them into the heated liquid Ni and let the structures equilibrate in a 14-ns molecular-dynamics run; these structures are then quenched to obtain the composites. By varying the interaction of flake edge atoms with the Ni matrix, two different flake morphologies -wrinkled vs flat -are obtained. The mechanical properties, and in particular the composite hardness, are investigated by a simulated nanoindentation test. The flake morphology affects the plastic activity and the hardness of the composites. Wrinkled flakes show a higher potential in absorbing dislocations than flat flakes, resulting in a considerably reduced hardness of the composite. No effect of the changed interaction between graphene edge atoms and the Ni matrix on the dislocation activity and hardness could be observed. Furthermore, we demonstrate that a high graphene content in the plastic zone leads to an increased dislocation absorption and weakens the composite. (c) 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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