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Optimal synergy between micro and nano scale: Hierarchical all carbon composite fibers for enhanced stiffness, interfacial shear strength and Raman strain sensing

Multifunctional hierarchical reinforcements are fabricated by growing multi walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) onto carbon fibers (CFs) via chemical vapor deposition. In contrast to typical hybrid multi scale reinforced composites, the biomimetic approach of hierarchical interconnection between CFs and CNTs is followed in order to provide the dimensional confinement required for the effective synergy between the nanophase i.e. the CNTs and the micron phase i.e. the CFs. Compared to the reference CF: (i) ASTM single fiber tensile tests reveal up to 50% increase in tensile modulus together with the expected decrease in tensile strength, (ii) Single Fiber Fragmentation Tests (SFFT) reveal up to 134% enhancement for Interfacial Shear Strength (IFSS), (iii) the frequency of the Raman 2D graphitic vibrational mode with strain shows a strain sensitivity enhancement up to 87.4% and (iv) fractographic investigation shows bridging of the CNTs only for specific growth conditions, which correspond to the optimal IFSS. Furthermore, a direct correlation between the Raman strain sensitivity with the young moduli of the CF and the hierarchical CF-CNT is found, proving the efficient stress transfer from the nano to micron scale in a “composite” fiber. Overall, an optimal synergy between the reinforcing graphitic phases is achieved, attaining for the first time an equivalent stiffness for the CNT reinforcement close to theoretically obtained values. Thus, biomimetic hierarchical reinforcements provide the roadmap for the full exploitation of the unique properties of the nanophase in advanced structural composites.

» Author: Kyriaki Tsirka, Lazaros Tzounis, Apostolos Avgeropoulos, Marco Liebscher, Viktor Mechtcherine, Alkiviadis S. Paipetis

» Reference: Composites Science and Technology, Volume 165

» Publication Date: 08/09/2018

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This project has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° [310187].