Research Papers

Ultrasound Assisted Hybrid Carbon Epoxy Composites Containing Carbon Nanotubes

[+] Author and Article Information
Mrinal C. Saha

e-mail: msaha@ou.edu
School of Aerospace and
Mechanical Engineering,
University of Oklahoma,
Norman, OK 73019

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Materials Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF Engineering Materials and Technology. Manuscript received June 18, 2012; final manuscript received November 8, 2012; published online January 23, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Hanchen Huang.

J. Eng. Mater. Technol 135(1), 011009 (Jan 23, 2013) (8 pages) Paper No: MATS-12-1148; doi: 10.1115/1.4023043 History: Received June 18, 2012; Revised November 08, 2012

A simple approach has been reported toward the development of hybrid nano/microfiber composite structures with improved mechanical properties. Ultrasound assisted atomization process has been utilized for depositing carbon nanotubes (CNTs) on the surface of carbon fiber (CF) cloth using dilute solutions of CNTs in N, N-dimethylformamide (DMF). Dilute solutions with three different CNT concentrations such as 1 × 10−4 g/ml, 5 × 10−4 g/ml, and 10 × 10−4 g/ml were fed into an ultrasonic atomizer probe using a positive displacement syringe pump and sprayed directly on CF cloth rested on a hot plate inside a deposition chamber. Several layers of hybrid CF cloths containing CNTs were used to fabricate composite laminates using a vacuum assisted resin transfer molding (VARTM). Although the dispersion of CNTs in DMF was found very well for all three concentrations, the distribution of CNTs on CFs was only found homogeneous for 1 × 10−4 g/ml solution. It was found that the hybrid composite containing 0.3 wt. % CNTs loading fabricated using 1 × 10−4 g/ml solution showed about 25% improvement in flexural strength, although moderate improvement in flexure modulus was achieved for all three concentrations. The improved strength is believed to be due to homogeneous distribution of CNTs, which resulted in increased surface roughness and mechanical interlocking between fibers and matrix.

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Fig. 1

Schematic showing the fabrication of the hybrid composite

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Fig. 2

Schematic of CNT coverage with respect to CF cloth and a sample calculation for CNT content in the composite (for sample type 3 in Table 1)

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Fig. 3

(a) Ultrasonic atomization setup for hybrid fabric and (b) VARTM setup for composite fabrication

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Fig. 4

SEM micrographs showing surface of CF (a) pristine and (b) after DMF sprayed

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Fig. 5

Effect of DMF exposure on flexure properties of carbon/epoxy composite

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Fig. 6

(a) UV–visible spectra of 1 × 10−4 g/ml CNT-DMF solution at different times after sonication and (b) photographs of solution with CNT concentration of 1 × 10−4 g/ml (left), 5 × 10−4 g/ml (middle), and 10 × 10−4 g/ml (right) just after sonication (top) and 48 h after the sonication (bottom)

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Fig. 7

Optical images of CNT-DMF solution spray droplets on glass substrate at two different spots with different concentrations (a) 2 ml of 1 × 10−4 g/ml, (b) 0.4 ml of 5 × 10−4 g/ml, and (c) 0.2 ml of 10 × 10−4 g/ml

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Fig. 8

SEM images (low magnification) showing distribution of CNTs on CFs for different CNT-concentrations (a) 1 × 10−4 g/ml, (b) 5 × 10−4 g/ml, and (c) 1 × 10−4 g/ml. For all three cases, the CNT content was 0.03% wt of CFs.

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Fig. 9

SEM images (high magnification) showing distribution of CNTs on CFs for different CNT concentrations (a) 1 × 10−4 g/ml, (b) 5 × 10−4 g/ml, and (c) 1 × 10−4 g/ml. For all three cases, the CNT content was 0.03% wt of CFs.

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Fig. 10

Effect of CNT concentration on flexure properties of carbon/epoxy composite. Total amount of CNTs in the composite was about 0.03% wt of CFs.

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Fig. 11

Schematic shows the distribution of CNTs on carbon fiber fabric during solvent evaporation penetration of the CNT inside the carbon fiber tow

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Fig. 12

SEM images showing fracture surface of hybrid composite fabricated using (a) and (b) 1 × 10−4 g/ml and (c) and (d) 5 × 10−4 g/ml CNT-DMF solution with CNT loading of 0.03% wt of CFs. Arrows indicate CNTs.

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Fig. 13

SEM micrographs of the fracture surface of hybrid composite fabricated using 10 × 10−4 g/ml CNT-DMF solution with CNT loading of 0.03% wt of CFs at (a) low magnification, and at (b) high magnification. Circles: voids; cross-circle: crack initiator void; arrows: CNTs

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Fig. 14

SEM images showing distribution of CNTs on CFs at different CNT loadings (a) 0.03%, (b) 0.09%, and (c) 0.3% wt of CFs

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Fig. 15

Effect of CNT content on flexure properties of carbon/epoxy composite. All hybrid composites were fabricated using 1 × 10−4 g/ml CNT solution concentration.



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