Research ArticleENGINEERING

Graphene fatigue through van der Waals interactions

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Science Advances  14 Oct 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 42, eabb1335
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb1335

Abstract

Graphene is often in contact with other materials through weak van der Waals (vdW) interactions. Of particular interest is the graphene-polymer interface, which is constantly subjected to dynamic loading in applications, including flexible electronics and multifunctional coatings. Through in situ cyclic loading, we directly observed interfacial fatigue propagation at the graphene-polymer interface, which was revealed to satisfy a modified Paris’ law. Furthermore, cyclic loading through vdW contact was able to cause fatigue fracture of even pristine graphene through a combined in-plane shear and out-of-plane tear mechanism. Shear fracture was found to mainly initiate at the fold junctions induced by cyclic loading and propagate parallel to the loading direction. Fracture mechanics analysis was conducted to explain the kinetics of an exotic self-tearing behavior of graphene during cyclic loading. This work offers mechanistic insights into the dynamic reliability of graphene and graphene-polymer interface, which could facilitate the durable design of graphene-based structures.

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