Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have record high tensile strength and Young’s modulus, which makes them ideal for making super strong yarns, ropes, fillers for composites, solid lubricants, etc. The mechanical properties of CNT bundles have been addressed in a number of experimental and theoretical studies. The development of efficient computational methods for solving this problem is an important step in the design of new CNT-based materials. In the present study, an atomistic chain model is proposed to analyze the mechanical response of CNT bundles under plane strain conditions. The model takes into account the tensile and bending rigidity of the CNT wall, as well as the van der Waals interactions between walls. Due to the discrete character of the model, it is able to describe large curvature of the CNT wall and the fracture of the walls at very high pressures, where both of these problems are difficult to address in frame of continuum mechanics models. As an example, equilibrium structures of CNT crystal under biaxial, strain controlled loading are obtained and their thermal stability is analyzed. The obtained results agree well with previously reported data. In addition, a new equilibrium structure with four SNTs in a translational cell is reported. The model offered here can be applied with great efficiency to the analysis of the mechanical properties of CNT bundles composed of single-walled or multi-walled CNTs under plane strain conditions due to considerable reduction in the number of degrees of freedom.
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