This is an author's peer-reviewed final manuscript, as accepted by the publisher. The published article is copyrighted by Elsevier and can be found at: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/composites-part-a-applied-science-and-manufacturing/.A fiber’s efficiency in a short-fiber composite can be accurately solved by shear-lag methods, which can account for fiber geometry, an imperfect interface (or interphase), and extend to low volume fractions. Such an analysis was used to evaluate the aspect ratio requirements for single-walled nanotubes (SWNT) in a polymeric composite and contrast it to conventional fibers. The aspect ratio requirements are indistinguishable among all stiff fibers, except at low volume fractions where stiffer fibers require higher aspect ratios. The required aspect ratio decreases significantly at higher volume fractions. A scaling effect in the interphase term implies the interphase is more important for nano-fibers than for larger fibers. If the interface between nano-fibers and the matrix is not excellent, those fibers will not provide effective reinforcement. The most promising SWNT composites should use higher volume fractions and focus on systems where the fiber can stiffen the matrix in the interphase region
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