Aligning carbon nanofibres in glass-fibre/epoxy composites to improve interlaminar toughness and crack-detection capability

Wu, S, Ladani, R, Ravindran, A, Zhang, J, Mouritz, A, Kinloch, A and Wang, C 2017, 'Aligning carbon nanofibres in glass-fibre/epoxy composites to improve interlaminar toughness and crack-detection capability', Composites Science and Technology, vol. 152, pp. 46-56.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Aligning carbon nanofibres in glass-fibre/epoxy composites to improve interlaminar toughness and crack-detection capability
Author(s) Wu, S
Ladani, R
Ravindran, A
Zhang, J
Mouritz, A
Kinloch, A
Wang, C
Year 2017
Journal name Composites Science and Technology
Volume number 152
Start page 46
End page 56
Total pages 11
Publisher Elsevier
Abstract An electric field is used to align carbon nanofibres (CNFs) in the matrix of a glass-fibre reinforced-polymer (GFRP) composite to simultaneously improve the (a) delamination toughness, (b) electrical conductivity, and (c) damage-sensing capability. The CNFs are added to the epoxy resin prior to the manufacture of the GFRP composites. To align the CNFs, an alternating current (AC) electric field of 30 V/mm at 10 kHz is applied across the GFRP sheet throughout the matrix-curing process. The electromechanical force induced by the electric field, applied in the through-thickness direction of the composite sheet, rotates and aligns the CNFs in the direction of the applied electric field prior to the gelation of the epoxy matrix. After curing, the resultant aligned, 'chain-like', microstructure of the CNFs in the epoxy matrix significantly enhances both the interlaminar fracture toughness and the through-thickness electrical conductivity of the GFRP composite. Specifically, the addition of 0.7 vol% of randomly-orientated CNFs in the GFRP composite yielded an ∼50% and 25% increase in the values of the mode I fracture toughness pertinent to the initiation, G Ici , and steady-state growth, G Icss , of delamination crack, respectively, compared to the control GFRP composite. The alignment of the CNFs, in the transverse direction to the direction of the crack growth, increases the mode I toughness values of G Ici and G Icss by ∼100% and ∼80%, respectively, compared to the control GFRP composite. These significant increases are attributable to multiple toughening mechanisms, including debonding of the CNFs from the matrix, void growth of the epoxy matrix, pull-out and rupture of the CNFs. Further, the electric-field induced alignment of the CNFs, in the through-thickness direction, increases the out-of-plane electrical conductivity of the GFRP by about twenty-six times, compared to the GFRP composite containing randomly-orientated CNFs.
Subject Composite and Hybrid Materials
Keyword(s) Carbon nanofibres
Delamination
Electrical properties
Functional composites
DOI - identifier 10.1016/j.compscitech.2017.09.007
Copyright notice © 2017 Elsevier Ltd
ISSN 0266-3538
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