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Synthesis of a CNT Nano-Coating on Carbon Fibers: its Role on Strength, Toughness & Damage Tolerance of Polymer Matrix Composites

G. Prabhu-Gaunkar
Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, IN

Keywords: advanced composites, in-situ CNT synthesis, nano-composites, damage tolerance


Carbon in its form as nanotubes is an excellent candidate material for applications as reinforcement in advanced composites. The outstanding mechanical, electrical and thermal properties properties of these nano constituents can be transferred to macro-level behavior of composites by incorporating the nanotubes as reinforcement. The properties of the products are, however, largely influenced by the quality of the CNTs, uniformity of their dispersion into the matrix without clustering, their alighment etc., which must be controlled for achieving the fullest benefits from the incorporation of CNTs in composites. Considerable research and development efforts have focused on each of these problems and innovative solutions have been proposed. A novel method of incorporating CNTs into polymer matrix composites, consisting of in-situ synthesis of a nano-coating of carbon nanotubes directly on the surface of the carbon fibers in the form of tows, fabrics or preforms has been developed by our group. This facilitates the dispersion of the nanotubes uniformly into the matrix since they remain anchored to the surface of the carbon fibers. Studies on polymer matrix composite laminate samples with carbon fiber reinforcement thus processed have shown significant improvements in their mechanical behavior and damage tolerance during low energy impact tests.
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