This paper employs the atomic-scale finite element method (AFEM) to study critical strain of axial buckling for carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Brenner et al. “second-generation” empirical potential is used to model covalent bonds among atoms. The computed energy curve and critical strain for (8, 0) single-walled CNT (SWNT) agree well with molecular dynamics simulations. Both local and global buckling are achieved, two corresponding buckling zones are obtained, and the global buckling behavior of SWNT with a larger aspect ratio approaches gradually to that of a column described by Euler’s formula. For double-walled CNTs with smaller ratio of length to outer diameter, the local buckling behavior can be explained by conventional shell theory very well. AFEM is an efficient way to study buckling of CNTs.

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