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The Great Reduction of a Carbon Nanotube’s Mechanical Performance by a Few Topological Defects

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journal contribution
posted on 02.06.2016 by Liyan Zhu, Jinlan Wang, Feng Ding
It is widely believed that carbon nanotubes (CNTs) can be employed to produce superstrong materials with tensile strengths of up to 50 GPa. Numerous efforts have, however, led to CNT fibers with maximum strengths of only a few GPa. Here we report that, due to different mechanical responses to the tensile loading of disclination topological defects in the CNT walls, a few of these topological defects are able to greatly decrease the strength of the CNTs, by up to an order of magnitude. This study reveals that even nearly perfect CNTs cannot be used to build exceptionally strong materials, and therefore synthesizing flawless CNTs is essential for utilizing the ideal strength of CNTs.