Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 50, Issue 8, pp 3258–3266 | Cite as

Mechanical properties and toughness of carbon aerogel/epoxy polymer composites

  • Tsung-Han Hsieh
  • Yau-Shian Huang
  • Ming-Yuan Shen
Original Paper


Because of their nanoporous structure and large surface area, carbon aerogels have high potential for improving the material properties of polymer-based composites. In the present study, the mechanical properties and toughness of epoxy polymers modified with an aerogel content of 0.0–0.5 wt% were considered. Experimental results showed that the stiffness and strength of the carbon aerogel toughened polymers steadily increased with the carbon aerogel content. The glass transition temperature of the unmodified epoxy polymer was 147 °C, and it was not appreciably affected by the addition of carbon aerogels. Blending the carbon aerogels with the epoxy polymer led to an appreciably improvement in the fracture performance of the resulting composites. For example, the fracture energy of the unmodified polymer was 125 J m−2, whereas that of an epoxy polymer reinforced with a carbon aerogel content of 0.3 wt% was 255 J m−2. The mechanisms responsible for the toughness enhancement were identified by studying the fracture surfaces using field emission gun scanning electron microscopy. Crack pinning, crack deflection, interfacial debonding, and plastic void growth were the main toughening mechanisms in the carbon aerogel toughened epoxy polymers.


Fracture Toughness Fracture Energy Silica Nanoparticles Epoxy Polymer Carbon Aerogel 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank the National Science Council, Taiwan, for financially supporting this research under a Contract No. NSC-102-2221-E-151-056.


  1. 1.
    Ram A, Press Plenum (1997) Fundamentals of polymer engineering. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Kinloch AJ, Chapman and Hall (1987) Adhesion and Adhesives: Science and Technology, 1st edn. Chapman and Hall, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Nicolais L, Guerra G, Migliaresi C, Nicodemo L, Di Benedetto AT (1981) Mechanical properties of glass-bead filled polystyrene composites. Composites 12:33–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Lee J, Yee AF (2000) Fracture of glass bead/epoxy composites: on micro-mechanical deformations. Polymer 41:8363–8373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Kawaguchi T, Pearson R (2003) The effect of particle–matrix adhesion on the mechanical behavior of glass filled epoxies. Part 2. A study on fracture toughness. Polymer 44:4239–4247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Johnsen BB, Kinloch AJ, Taylor AC (2005) Toughness of syndiotactic polystyrene/epoxy polymer blends: microstructure and toughening mechanisms. Polymer 46:7352–7369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Kinlcoh AJ, Taylor AC (2006) The mechanical properties and fracture behaviour of epoxy-inorganic micro- and nano-composites. J Mater Sci 41:3271–3297. doi: 10.1007/s10853-005-5472-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hsieh TH, Kinloch AJ, Masania K, Taylor AC, Sprenger S (2010) The mechanisms and mechanics of the toughening of epoxy polymers modified with silica nanoparticles. Polymer 51:6284–6294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hsieh TH, Kinloch AJ, Taylor AC, Sprenger S (2011) The effect of silica nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes on the toughness of a thermosetting epoxy polymer. J Appl Polym Sci 119:2135–2142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Conradi M, Zorko M, Kocijan A, Verpoest I (2013) Mechanical Properties of epoxy composites reinforced with a low volume fraction of nanosilica fillers. Mater Chem Phys 137:910–915CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Ho MW, Lam CK, Lau KT, Ng DHL, Hui D (2006) Mechanical properties of epoxy-based composites using nanoclays. Compos Struct 75:415–421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ferreira JAM, Reis PNB, Costa JDM, Richardson BCH, Richardson MOW (2011) A study of the mechanical properties on polypropylene enhanced by surface treated nanoclays. Compos Part B-Eng 42:1366–1372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Shen MY, Chang TY, Hsieh TH, Li YL, Chiang CL, Yang H, Yip MC (2013) Mechanical Properties and tensile fatigue of graphene nanoplatelets reinforced polymers nanocomposites. J Nanomater 2013:1–9Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Yeh MK, Tai NH, Liu JH (2003) Mechanical behavior of phenolic-based composites reinforced with multi-walled carbon nanotubes. Carbon 44:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Yeh MK, Tai NH, Lin YJ (2008) Mechanical properties of phenolic-based nanocomposites reinforced by multi-walled carbon nanotubes and carbon fibers. Compos Part A-Appl Sci 39:677–684CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Tai NH, Yeh MK, Peng TH (2008) Experimental study and theoretical analysis on the mechanical properties of SWNTs/phenolic composites. Compos Part B-Eng 39:926–932CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Yeh MK, Hsieh TH, Tai NH (2008) Fabrication and mechanical properties of multi-walled carbon nanotubes/epoxy nanocomposites. Mater Sci Eng A-Struct 483–484:289–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hsieh TH, Kinloch AJ, Taylor AC, Kinloch IA (2011) The effect of carbon nanotubes on the fracture toughness and fatigue performance of a thermosetting epoxy polymer. J Mater Sci 46:7525–7535. doi: 10.1007/s10853-011-5724-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Bal S (2010) Experimental study of mechanical and electrical properties of carbon nanofiber/epoxy composites. Mater Des 31:2406–2413CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kinloch AJ, Mohammed RD, Taylor AC, Eger C, Sprenger S, Egan D (2005) The effect of silica nano particles and rubber particles on the toughness of multiphase thermosetting epoxy polymers. J Mater Sci 44:5083–5086. doi: 10.1007/s10853-005-7261-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Pekala RW (1989) Organic aerogels from the polycondensation of resorcinol with formaldehyde. J Mater Sci 24:3221–3227. doi: 10.1007/BF01139044 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Frackowiak E, Beguin F (2001) Carbon materials for the electrochemical storage of energy in capacitors. Carbon 39:937–950CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Lee YJ, Park HW, Park S, Song IK (2012) Electrochemical properties of Mn-doped activated carbon aerogel as electrode material for supercapacitor. Curr Appl Phys 12:233–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Li J, Wang X, Huang Q, Gamboa S, Sebastian PJ (2006) Studies on preparation and performances of carbon aerogel electrodes for the application of supercapacitor. J Power Sources 158:787–788Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Qin CL, Lu X, Yin GP, Bai XD, Jin Z (2009) Activated nitrogen-enriched carbon/carbon aerogel nanocomposites for supercapacitor applications. T Nonferr Mater Soc 19:738–742CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Mirzaeian M, Hall PJ (2009) Preparation of controlled porosity carbon aerogels for energy storage in rechargeable lithium oxygen batteries. Electrochim Acta 54:7444–7451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Jiang S, Zhang Z, Lai Y, Qu Y, Wang X, Li J (2014) Selenium encapsulated into 3D interconnected hierarchical porous carbon aerogels for lithium-selenium batteries with high rate performance and cycling stability. J Power Sources 267:394–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Smirnova A, Dong X, Hara H, Vasiliev A, Sammes N (2005) Novel carbon aerogel-supported catalysts for PEM fuel cell application. Int J Hydrog Energy 30:149–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Yang X, Sun Y, Shi D, Liu J (2011) Experimental investigation on mechanical properties of a fiber-reinforced silica aerogel composite. Mat Sci Eng A-Struct 528:4830–4836CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    ASTM-D638 (2010) Standard test method for tensile properties of plastics. ASTM, West ConshohockenGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    ASTM-D5045 (2007) Standard test method for plane-strain fracture toughness and strain-energy release rate of plastic materials. ASTM, West ConshohockenGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    ISO-13586 (2000) Plastics-determination of fracture toughness (G IC and K IC)-linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM) approach. ISO, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Andrews EH, Oliver and Boyd (1986) Fracture in polymer. Oliver and Boyd, LondonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tsung-Han Hsieh
    • 1
  • Yau-Shian Huang
    • 1
  • Ming-Yuan Shen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Mold and Die EngineeringNational Kaohsiung University of Applied SciencesKaohsiung CityTaiwan, ROC
  2. 2.Department of Aviation Mechanical EngineeringChina University of Science and TechnologyHengshan TownshipTaiwan, ROC

Personalised recommendations