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  1. We report a mechanical metamaterial-like behavior as a function of the micro/nanostructure of otherwise chemically identical aliphatic polyurea aerogels. Transmissibility varies dramatically with frequency in these aerogels. Broadband vibration mitigation is provided at low frequencies (500–1000 Hz) through self-assembly of locally resonant metastructures wherein polyurea microspheres are embedded in a polyurea web-like network. A micromechanical constitutive model based on a discrete element method is established to explain the vibration mitigation mechanism. Simulations confirm the metamaterial-like behavior with a negative dynamic material stiffness for the micro-metastructured aerogels in a much wider frequency range than the majority of previously reported locally resonant metamaterials.
  2. Debonding at the core–skin interphase region is one of the primary failure modes in core sandwich composites under shear loads. As a result, the ability to characterize the mechanical properties at the interphase region between the composite skin and core is critical for design analysis. This work intends to use nanoindentation to characterize the viscoelastic properties at the interphase region, which can potentially have mechanical properties changing from the composite skin to the core. A sandwich composite using a polyvinyl chloride foam core covered with glass fiber/resin composite skins was prepared by vacuum-assisted resin transfer molding. Nanoindentation at an array of sites was made by a Berkovich nanoindenter tip. The recorded nanoindentation load and depth as a function of time were analyzed using viscoelastic analysis. Results are reported for the shear creep compliance and Young’s relaxation modulus at various locations of the interphase region. The change of viscoelastic properties from higher values close to the fiber composite skin region to the smaller values close to the foam core was captured. The Young’s modulus at a given strain rate, which is also equal to the time-averaged Young’s modulus across the interphase region was obtained. The interphase Young’s modulus at a loadingmore »rate of 1 mN/s was determined to change from 1.4 GPa close to composite skin to 0.8 GPa close to the core. This work demonstrated the feasibility and effectiveness of nanoindentation-based interphase characterizations to be used as an input for the interphase stress distribution calculations, which can eventually enrich the design process of such sandwich composites.« less
  3. Higher-efficiency, lower-cost refrigeration is needed for both large- and small-scale cooling. Refrigerators using entropy changes during cycles of stretching or hydrostatic compression of a solid are possible alternatives to the vapor-compression fridges found in homes. We show that high cooling results from twist changes for twisted, coiled, or supercoiled fibers, including those of natural rubber, nickel titanium, and polyethylene fishing line. Using opposite chiralities of twist and coiling produces supercoiled natural rubber fibers and coiled fishing line fibers that cool when stretched. A demonstrated twist-based device for cooling flowing water provides high cooling energy and device efficiency. Mechanical calculations describe the axial and spring-index dependencies of twist-enhanced cooling and its origin in a phase transformation for polyethylene fibers.
  4. Polymer matrix composites have high strengths in tension. However, their compressive strengths are much lower than their tensile strengths due to their weak fiber/matrix interfacial shear strengths. We recently developed a new approach to fabricate composites by overwrapping individual carbon fibers or fiber tows with a carbon nanotube sheet and subsequently impregnate them into a matrix to enhance the interfacial shear strengths without degrading the tensile strengths of the carbon fibers. In this study, a theoretical analysis is conducted to identify the appropriate thickness of the nanocomposite interphase region formed by carbon nanotubes embedded in a matrix. Fibers are modeled as an anisotropic elastic material, and the nanocomposite interphase region and the matrix are considered as isotropic. A microbuckling problem is solved for the unidirectional composite under compression. The analytical solution is compared with finite element simulations for verification. It is determined that the critical load at the onset of buckling is lower in an anisotropic carbon fiber composite than in an isotropic fibfer composite due to lower transverse properties in the fibers. An optimal thickness for nanocomposite interphase region is determined, and this finding provides a guidance for the manufacture of composites using aligned carbon nanotubes as fillers inmore »the nanocomposite interphase region.« less
  5. Although guest-filled carbon nanotube yarns provide record performance as torsional and tensile artificial muscles, they are expensive, and only part of the muscle effectively contributes to actuation.We describe a muscle type that provides higher performance, in which the guest that drives actuation is a sheath on a twisted or coiled core that can be an inexpensive yarn. This change from guest-filled to sheath-run artificial muscles increases the maximum work capacity by factors of 1.70 to 2.15 for tensile muscles driven electrothermally or by vapor absorption. A sheath-run electrochemical muscle generates 1.98 watts per gram of average contractile power—40 times that for human muscle and 9.0 times that of the highest power alternative electrochemical muscle.Theory predicts the observed performance advantages of sheath-run muscles.