Comparison of chemical vapor deposition and chemical grafting for improving the mechanical properties of carbon fiber/epoxy composites with multi-wall carbon nanotubes
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By engineering the fiber/matrix interface, the properties of the composite can be changed significantly. In this work, we increased the effective surface area of the fiber/matrix interface, to facilitate additional stress transfer between fibers and matrix, by grafting carbon nanotubes on to carbon fibers (in the form of carbon fabric) by two different methods: (1) chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method and (2) a purely chemical method. With the CVD process, carbon nanotubes (CNT) were directly grown on carbon fiber substrate using chemical vapors. For the chemical method, CNT with carboxyl groups were grafted on functionalized carbon fiber via a chemical reaction. The morphology of CNT/carbon fibers was examined by scanning electron microscope (SEM) which revealed uniform coverage of carbon fibers with CNT in both of CVD method and chemical grafting method. CNT-grafted woven carbon fibers were used to make carbon/epoxy composites, and their mechanical properties were measured using three-point bending and tension tests which showed that those with CNT-grafted carbon fiber reinforcements using the CVD process has 11 % higher tensile strength compared to those containing carbon fibers modified with the chemical method. Also, composites with CNT-grafted carbon fibers with chemical method showed 20 % higher tensile strength compared to composites with unmodified carbon fibers. The results of tensile test revealed that both CVD and chemical grafting could significantly improve the mechanical properties of the carbon fiber composites.
KeywordsChemical Vapor Deposition Carbon Fiber High Tensile Strength Flexural Modulus Chemical Vapor Deposition Process
Huaiping Rong would like to acknowledge the support from the National Basic Research Program (Grant No. 2011CB605600-G) of China (973 Program), the Ph.D. Students Innovation Project of Donghua university Shanghai city in China (Grant No. 9D10628), the China Scholarship Council (CSC) (2010- 2012), and the School of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
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