Mathematical Problems in Engineering

Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 240547, 5 pages

http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/240547

## Elastic Properties of Boron-Nitride Nanotubes through an Atomic Simulation Method

^{1}School of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Zhongyuan University of Technology, Zhengzhou 450007, China^{2}Department of Architectural Engineering, Zhengzhou Railway Vocational and Technical College, Zhengzhou 451460, China

Received 29 August 2014; Revised 29 October 2014; Accepted 29 October 2014

Academic Editor: Kim M. Liew

Copyright © 2015 Jixiao Tao et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

#### Abstract

The elastic properties of the boron-nitride nanotubes are studied based on an atomic simulation method that is called atomic-scale finite element method. The Tersoff-Brenner potential is used to describe the interaction between boron and nitrogen atoms, and the computational method is established in an atomic-scale scheme similar to the classical finite element method. Young’s modulus is evaluated for the boron-nitride nanotubes, and their buckling behavior is analyzed. It is shown that the diameter has an obvious influence on Young’s modulus of BNNTs, and the buckling is little related to the length of the nanotubes.

#### 1. Introduction

Boron-nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) are a very promising one-dimensional material and have a structural analogy to carbon nanotubes [1–3]. Some research reports have shown that BNNTs possess unique structural, mechanical, thermal, electrical, and chemical properties. For example, Young’s modulus of BNNTs is on the order of 1 TPa [4, 5]. The thermal conductivity along the nanotube is also very high. BNNTs have always large band gaps regardless of the chirality and diameter and are therefore semiconductors which are contrary to carbon nanotubes. The atomic simulation methods are important to the development of nanotechnology and to the study of nanomaterials and nanosystems. Molecular dynamics [6, 7] is a commonly used atomic-scale method, in which the conjugate gradient method is used for the energy minimization that consumes a large amount of computational resources, and is only available for the very small size. The atomic-scale finite element method (AFEM) is proposed by Liu et al. [8, 9], and it can achieve a high computational efficiency with the same accuracy as molecular dynamics. In the present study, AFEM is used to obtain the stiffness matrix and nonequilibrium force vector of the system, and the equilibrium state is determined with the nonlinear iteration.

In the field of theoretical research, only a few researches have been reported about the tensile and compressive properties of BNNTs. Oh used the continuum lattice approach to estimate elastic properties of BNNTs, in which the Tersoff-Brenner potential was used to describe the interaction between boron and nitrogen atoms, but some potential parameters have been modified to fit the cohesive energy and the bond length of boron nitride [10]. Song et al. employed an atomic-based continuum theory to study Young’s modulus, stress-strain curve, and nonlinear bifurcation in BNNTs [11]. They pointed out that the mechanical behavior of BNNTs is virtually independent of the diameter and length of BNNTs but has a strong dependence on chirality. Wei et al. used classical molecular dynamics simulations to investigate compressive and tensile behaviors of the carbon nanotubes and boron-nitride nanotubes [12]. From the computational analyses, they found that the chirality is the main factor affecting the behavior of the nanotubes, and the nanotubes in different materials but with the same chirality have similar deformation patterns. Liao et al. investigated the deformation behaviors of an (8, 8) boron-nitride nanotube under axial tensile strains, in which Tersoff potential was employed with the appropriate potential parameters [13]. According to their results, the BNNT starts to fail at the failure strain of 26.7% and the local elongation dominates the tensile failure of the BNNT. In this paper, the widely used Tersoff-Brenner potential is employed in the atomistic simulation, and a set of potential parameters modified by Oh are used to investigate the elastic properties of boron-nitride nanotubes [10]. AFEM is used to obtain the equilibrium states.

#### 2. Atomic-Scale Modeling Method

##### 2.1. Boron-Nitride Nanotubes

An undeformed BNNT can be visualized as a hollow cylinder that is formed by rolling up a BN sheet into a cylindrical shape. It can be uniquely characterized by a chiral vector in terms of a set of two integers corresponding to BN sheet unit vectors and (Figure 1):This tube is denoted as an tube with its diameter given by where is the bond length in the BN sheet. The tubes with are commonly referred to as armchair tubes and those with as zigzag tubes. Other tubes are called chiral tubes in general with the chiral angle which is defined as that between the vector and the zigzag direction :where ranges from 0° for zigzag () to 30° for armchair () tubes ( is used for convention). Shown in Figure 2 are Zigzag and armchair BNNTs.