Research

Multifunctional Carbon Fibre Composites

Principal investigator: Han ZHANG
Co-investigator(s): Emiliano BILOTTI and

Multifunctional carbon fibre composites are developed with integrated damage sensing capability for applications in aircraft structures and wind turbine blades.Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have potential for a wide range of applications in the composite field. Their large aspect ratio, excellent conductivity, and ultra-high mechanical and thermal properties make them an outstanding candidate for multifunctional nanofillers in combination with carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP). Thanks to their intrinsic multifunctionality, CNTs have demonstrated to be able to provide polymer composites with electrical properties, mechanical properties, sensing ability, self-healing properties, thermal conductivity and improved thermal stability, etc. A combination of these properties can be tailored by engineering these materials from the nano to mm level into hierarchical structures in order to fulfill desired applications.

Carbon nanotubes are incorporated in dissolvable thermoplastic fibres for localized sensing and toughening of composites manufactured by resin infusion processes.Damage sensing in structural composites is one of the important possible applications for CNT/polymer composites. It is demonstrated that conducting carbon nanotube networks formed in a thermosetting polymer matrix can be used as highly sensitive sensors for detecting the onset, nature, and evolution of damage in advanced composites. The internal damage accumulation can be monitored in situ using electrical measurements. These results demonstrate promises for the evaluation of self-healing approaches for polymer composites and the development of enhanced life prediction methodologies.