Alain Peigney, Felipe Legorreta Garcia, Claude Estournès, Alicia Weibel and Christophe Laurent; Toughening and hardening in double-walled carbon nanotubes / nanostructures magnesia composites; Carbon 48, (2009) 1952-1960; ISSN: 008-6223.
Dense double-walled carbon nanotube (DWCNT)/nanostructured MgO composites were prepared using an in situ route obviating any milling step for the synthesis of powders and consolidation by spark-plasma-sintering. An unambiguous increase in both toughness and microhardness is reported. The mechanisms of crack-bridging on an unprecedented scale, crack-deflection and DWCNT pullout have been evidenced. The very long DWCNTs, which appear to be mostly undamaged, are very homogeneously dispersed at the grain boundaries of the matrix, greatly inhibiting the grain growth during sintering. These results arise because the unique microstructure (low content of long DWCNTs, nanometric matrix grains and grain boundary cohesion) provides the appropriate scale of the reinforcement to make the material tough.