2022 journal article
Temporal evolution of the behavior of absorbed moisture in a damaged polymer-quartz composite: A molecular dynamics study
COMPUTATIONAL MATERIALS SCIENCE, 214.
• Interfacial Debonding was simulated on a nanoscale using an atomistic model of a quartz-fiber composite. • The temporal behavior of absorbed moisture was analyzed near the damage site. • Irrespective of the initial state of moisture in the composite, they eventually agglomerate near the damage location. • Spatial confinement near the interface bolsters previous experiments which hypothesize that absorbed moisture behaves like bulk water when clustered at microcracks. Exposure of a composite structure to mechanical or environmental stressors often leads to the formation of damage sites which contain rupture mechanisms such as matrix cracking and interfacial debonding. Continued accumulation of this type of small-scale damage can cause sudden and catastrophic large-scale failure. A novel damage characterization technique which leverages the altered physical and chemical states of naturally absorbed moisture in response to sub-micron scale damage has recently shown promise for early detection of damage. In this work, molecular dynamics simulations are used to better understand the differences in the behavior of absorbed water molecules near a damage site. The results show that, irrespective of the initial distribution of molecular water throughout the composite, or the presence of polar atoms in the polymer matrix, water tends to preferentially cluster near the damage location. It was also found that spatial confinement near the polymer-fiber interface hinders diffusion of the water molecules into the polymer matrix. These molecular level insights bolster the hypothesis formulated in previous experimental studies that absorbed moisture behaves like free water in terms of its dielectric activity when the water molecules agglomerate at the damage location. Consequently, this locally distinct permittivity can be leveraged for damage detection and quantification.