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Fatigue of graphene


Materials can suffer mechanical fatigue when subjected to cyclic loading at stress levels much lower than the ultimate tensile strength, and understanding this behaviour is critical to evaluating long-term dynamic reliability. The fatigue life and damage mechanisms of two-dimensional (2D) materials, of interest for mechanical and electronic applications, are currently unknown. Here, we present a fatigue study of freestanding 2D materials, specifically graphene and graphene oxide (GO). Using atomic force microscopy, monolayer and few-layer graphene were found to exhibit a fatigue life of more than 109 cycles at a mean stress of 71 GPa and a stress range of 5.6 GPa, higher than any material reported so far. Fatigue failure in monolayer graphene is global and catastrophic without progressive damage, while molecular dynamics simulations reveal this is preceded by stress-mediated bond reconfigurations near defective sites. Conversely, functional groups in GO impart a local and progressive fatigue damage mechanism. This study not only provides fundamental insights into the fatigue enhancement behaviour of graphene-embedded nanocomposites, but also serves as a starting point for the dynamic reliability evaluation of other 2D materials.

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Fig. 1: Fatigue testing of 2D materials.
Fig. 2: Fatigue of graphene.
Fig. 3: Fatigue of GO.
Fig. 4: Fatigue fracture morphology.
Fig. 5: MD fatigue simulations of graphene and GO.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the authors on reasonable request.

Code availability

The codes used for the fatigue data analysis in this study are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.


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We acknowledge financial support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Erwin Edward Hart Professorship, the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation Early Career Researcher Award, the Canada Research Chairs Program and the Ontario Research Funds—Research Excellence programme. SEM and TEM measurements were performed at the Ontario Centre for the Characterization of Advanced Materials (OCCAM). MD simulations were performed at the SciNet and Calculquebec consortia. SciNet is funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation under the auspices of Compute Canada, the Government of Ontario, Ontario Research Fund-Research Excellence and the University of Toronto. We thank J. Li at Asylum Research for technical assistance with experiments.

Author information




T.C. conceived the idea. T.F. and Y.S. supervised T.C. on the sample preparation and all the fatigue experiments. C.V.S. supervised S.M. on the MD and DFT simulations. F.N. and T.C. performed FEA. P.M.A. directed P.M.S. on GO synthesis. G.C. programmed the code for data analysis. J.T. conducted the TEM measurements. T.C. and S.M. wrote the manuscript. All authors discussed the results and analysis, and reviewed and revised the final manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Chandra Veer Singh or Yu Sun or Tobin Filleter.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary discussion and methods, Figs. 1–16, Table 1 and references.

Supplementary Video 1

Cyclic loading of graphene showing bond reconfiguration and catastrophic failure—1.

Supplementary Video 2

Cyclic loading of graphene showing bond reconfiguration and catastrophic failure—2.

Supplementary Video 3

Static loading of graphene oxide at a strain rate of 108/s.

Supplementary Video 4

Static loading of graphene oxide at a strain rate of 109/s.

Supplementary Video 5

Static loading of graphene oxide at a strain rate of 1010/s.

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Cui, T., Mukherjee, S., Sudeep, P.M. et al. Fatigue of graphene. Nat. Mater. 19, 405–411 (2020).

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