Carbon fiber polymer-matrix structural composites tailored for multifunctionality by filler incorporation
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This dissertation provides multifunctional carbon fiber polymer-matrix structural composites for vibration damping, thermal conduction and thermoelectricity. Specifically, (i) it has strengthened and stiffened carbon fiber polymer-matrix structural composites by the incorporation of halloysite nanotubes, carbon nanotubes and silicon carbide whiskers, (ii) it has improved mechanical energy dissipation using carbon fiber polymer-matrix structural composites with filler incorporation, (iii) it has increased the through-thickness thermal conductivity of carbon fiber polymer-matrix composite by curing pressure increase and filler incorporation, and (iv) it has enhanced the thermoelectric behavior of carbon fiber polymer-matrix structural composites. Low-cost natural halloysite nanotubes (0.1 μm diameter) were effective for strengthening and stiffening continuous fiber polymer-matrix composites, as shown for crossply carbon fiber (5 μm diameter, ∼59 vol.%) epoxy-matrix composites under flexure, giving 17% increase in strength, 11% increase in modulus and 21% decrease in ductility. They were less effective than expensive multiwalled carbon nanotubes (0.02 μm diameter), which gave 25% increase in strength, 11% increase in modulus and 14% decrease in ductility. However, they were more effective than expensive silicon carbide whiskers (1 μm diameter), which gave 15% increase in strength, 9% increase in modulus and 20% decrease in ductility. Each filler, at ∼2 vol.%, was incorporated in the composite at every interlaminar interface by fiber prepreg surface modification. The flexural strength increase due to halloysite nanotubes incorporation related to the interlaminar shear strength increase. The measured values of the composite modulus agreed roughly with the calculated values based on the Rule of Mixtures. Continuous carbon fiber composites with enhanced vibration damping under flexure are provided by incorporation of fillers between the laminae. Exfoliated graphite (EG) as a sole filler is more effective than carbon nanotube (SWCNT/MWCNT), halloysite nanotube (HNT) or nanoclay as sole fillers in enhancing the loss tangent, if the curing pressure is 2.0 (not 0.5) MPa. The MWCNT, SiC whisker and halloysite nanotube as sole fillers are effective for increasing the storage modulus. The combined use of a storage-modulus-enhancing filler (CNT, SiC whisker or HNT) and a loss-tangent-enhancing filler (EG or nanoclay) gives the best performance. With EG, HNT and 2.0-MPa curing, the loss modulus is increased by 110%, while the flexural strength is decreased by 14% and the flexural modulus is not affected. With nanoclay, HNT and 0.5-MPa curing, the loss modulus is increased by 96%, while the flexural strength and modulus are essentially not affected. The low through-thickness thermal conductivity limits heat dissipation from continuous carbon fiber polymer-matrix composites. This conductivity is increased by up to 60% by raising the curing pressure from 0.1 to 2.0 MPa and up to 33% by incorporation of a filler (61.5 vol.%) at the interlaminar interface. The thermal resistivity is dominated by the lamina resistivity (which is contributed substantially by the intralaminar fiber–fiber interfacial resistivity), with the interlaminar interface thermal resistivity being unexpectedly negligible. The lamina resistivity and intralaminar fiber-fiber interfacial resistivity are decreased by up to 56% by raising the curing pressure and up to 36% by filler incorporation. Thermoelectric structural materials are potentially attractive for large-scale energy harvesting. Through filler incorporation and unprecedented decoupling of the bulk (laminae) and interfacial (interlaminar interfaces) contributions to the Seebeck voltage (through-thickness Seebeck voltage of a crossply continuous carbon fiber/epoxy composite laminate), this work provides thermoelectric power magnitudes at ∼70°C up to 110, 1670 and 11000 μV/K for the laminate, a lamina and an interlaminar interface respectively. The interface provides an apparent thermoelectric effect due to carrier backflow. The interfacial voltage is opposite in sign from the laminate and lamina voltages and is slightly lower in magnitude than the lamina voltage. The through-thickness thermoelectric behavior of continuous carbon fiber epoxy-matrix structural composites has been greatly improved by the use of tellurium particles (13 vol.% of composite), bismuth telluride particles (2 vol.%) and carbon black (2 vol.%) at the interlaminar interface. The thermoelectric power is increased from 8 to 163 μV/K, while the electrical resistivity is decreased from 0.17 to 0.02 Ω.cm, the thermal conductivity is decreased from 1.31 to 0.51 W/m.K, and the dimensionless thermoelectric figure of merit ZT at 70°C is increased from 9 × 10 -6 to 9 × 10 -2 . Decrease in the curing pressure from 4.0 to 0.5 MPa decreases ZT slightly, mainly due to the increase in electrical resistivity.