DOI: 10.3390/ma16175745 ISSN:

Reviewing the Integrated Design Approach for Augmenting Strength and Toughness at Macro- and Micro-Scale in High-Performance Advanced Composites

Behzad Sadeghi, Pasquale Daniele Cavaliere
  • General Materials Science

In response to the growing demand for high-strength and high-toughness materials in industries such as aerospace and automotive, there is a need for metal matrix composites (MMCs) that can simultaneously increase strength and toughness. The mechanical properties of MMCs depend not only on the content of reinforcing elements, but also on the architecture of the composite (shape, size, and spatial distribution). This paper focuses on the design configurations of MMCs, which include both the configurations resulting from the reinforcements and the inherent heterogeneity of the matrix itself. Such high-performance MMCs exhibit excellent mechanical properties, such as high strength, plasticity, and fracture toughness. These properties, which are not present in conventional homogeneous materials, are mainly due to the synergistic effects resulting from the interactions between the internal components, including stress–strain gradients, geometrically necessary dislocations, and unique interfacial behavior. Among them, aluminum matrix composites (AMCs) are of particular importance due to their potential for weight reduction and performance enhancement in aerospace, electronics, and electric vehicles. However, the challenge lies in the inverse relationship between strength and toughness, which hinders the widespread use and large-scale development of MMCs. Composite material design plays a critical role in simultaneously improving strength and toughness. This review examines the advantages of toughness, toughness mechanisms, toughness distribution properties, and structural parameters in the development of composite structures. The development of synthetic composites with homogeneous structural designs inspired by biological composites such as bone offers insights into achieving exceptional strength and toughness in lightweight structures. In addition, understanding fracture behavior and toughness mechanisms in heterogeneous nanostructures is critical to advancing the field of metal matrix composites. The future development direction of architectural composites and the design of the reinforcement and toughness of metal matrix composites based on energy dissipation theory are also proposed. In conclusion, the design of composite architectures holds enormous potential for the development of composites with excellent strength and toughness to meet the requirements of lightweight structures in various industries.

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