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    We present a continuum-based structural model to study the mechanical behavior of cel- lulose nanocrystals (CNCs), and analyze the effect of bonded and non-bonded interactions on the mechanical properties under various loading conditions. In particular, this model assumes the uncoupling between the bonded and non-bonded interactions and their be- havior is obtained from atomistic simulations. Our results indicates that the major contri- bution to the tensile and bending stiffness is mainly due to the cellulose chain stiffness, and the shear behavior is mainly governed by Van der Waals (VdW) forces. In addition, we report a negligible torsional stiffness, which may explain the CNC tendency to easily twist under very small or nonexistent torques. In addition, the sensitivity of geometrical imper- fection on the mechanical properties using an analytical model of the CNC structure was investigated. Our results indicate that the presence of imperfections have a small influence on the majority of the elastic properties. Finally, it is shown that a simple homogeneous and orthotropic representation of a CNC under bending underestimates the contribution of non-bonded interaction leading up to 60% error in the calculation of the bending stiffness of CNCs. On the other hand, the proposed model can lead to more accurate predictions of the elastic behavior of CNCs. This is the first step toward the development of a more efficient model that can be used to model the inelastic behavior of single and multiple CNCs.

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    Shishehbor, Mehdi; Dri, Fernando L.; Moon, Robert J.; Zavattieri, Pablo D. 2018. A continuum-based structural modeling approach for cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs). Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids. 111: 308-332.


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    Cellulose, cellulose nanocrystals, structural modeling, finite elements

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