Direct nanomechanical measurements of boron nitride nanotube - Ceramic interfaces

Chenglin Yi, Soumendu Bagchi, Feilin Gou, Christopher M. Dmuchowski, Cheol Park, Catharine C. Fay, Huck Beng Chew, Changhong Ke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) are a unique class of light and strong tubular nanostructure and are highly promising as reinforcing additives in ceramic materials. However, the mechanical strength of BNNT-ceramic interfaces remains largely unexplored. Here we report the first direct measurement of the interfacial strength by pulling out individual BNNTs from silica (silicon dioxide) matrices using in situ electron microscopy techniques. Our nanomechanical measurements show that the average interfacial shear stress reaches about 34.7 MPa, while density functional theory calculations reveal strong bonded interactions between BN and silica lattices with a binding energy of -6.98 eV nm-2. Despite this strong BNNT-silica binding, nanotube pull-out remains the dominant failure mode without noticeable silica matrix residues on the pulled-out tube surface. The fracture toughness of BNNT-silica ceramic matrix nanocomposite is evaluated based on the measured interfacial strength property, and substantial fracture toughness enhancements are demonstrated at small filler concentrations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number025706
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 11 2019


  • boron nitride nanotubes
  • ceramic matrix nanocomposites
  • fracture toughness
  • nanotube-ceramic interface
  • pull-out experiments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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