Numerical Investigation of Polymer Coated Nanoporous Gold


Nanoporous metals represent a fascinating class of materials. They consist of a bi-continuous three-dimensional network of randomly intersecting pores and ligaments where the ligaments form the skeleton of the structure. The open-pore structure allows for applying a thin electrolytic coating on the ligaments. In this paper, we will investigate the stiffening effect of a polymer coating numerically. Since the coating adds an additional difficulty for the discretization of the microstructure by finite elements, we apply the finite cell method. This allows for deriving a mesh in a fully automatic fashion from the high resolution 3D voxel model stemming from the 3D focused ion beam-scanning electron microscope tomography data of nanoporous gold. By manipulating the voxel model in a straightforward way, we add a thin polymer layer of homogeneous thickness numerically and study its effect on the macroscopic elastic properties systematically. In order to lower the influence of the boundary conditions on the results, the window method, which is known from homogenization procedures, is applied. In the second part of the paper, we fill the gap between numerical simulations and experimental investigations and determine real material properties of an electrolytic applied polypyrrole coating by inverse computations. The simulations provide an estimate for the mechanical properties of the ligaments and the polymeric coating and are in accordance with experimental data.
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