A new finite element (FE) modeling method has been developed to investigate how the electrical-mechanical-thermal behavior of carbon nanotube (CNT)–reinforced polymer composites is affected by electron tunneling distances, volume fraction, and physically realistic tube aspect ratios. A representative CNT polymer composite conductive path was chosen from a percolation analysis to establish the three-dimensional (3D) computational finite-element (FE) approach. A specialized Maxwell FE formulation with a Fermi-based tunneling resistance was then used to obtain current density evolution for different CNT/polymer dispersions and tunneling distances. Analyses based on thermoelectrical and electrothermomechanical FE approaches were used to understand how CNT-epoxy composites behave under electrothermomechanical loading conditions.

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