The effect of carbon nanotubes on the fracture toughness and fatigue performance of a thermosetting epoxy polym

T. H. Hsieh, A. J. Kinloch, A. C. Taylor, I. A. Kinloch

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Multi-walled carbon nanotubes, with a typical length of 140 μm and a diameter of 120 nm, have been used to modify an anhydride-cured epoxy polymer. The modulus, fracture energy and the fatigue performance of the modified polymers have been investigated. Microscopy showed that these long nanotubes were agglomerated, and that increasing the nanotube content increased the severity of the agglomeration. The addition of nanotubes increased the modulus of the epoxy, but the glass transition temperature was unaffected. The measured fracture energy was also increased, from 133 to 223 J/m2 with the addition of 0.5 wt% of nanotubes. The addition of the carbon nanotubes also resulted in an increase in the fatigue performance. The threshold strain-energy release-rate, Gth, increased from 24 J/m2 for the unmodified material to 73 J/m2 for the epoxy with 0.5 wt% of nanotubes. Electron microscopy of the fracture surfaces showed clear evidence of nanotube debonding and pull-out, plus void growth around the nanotubes, in both the fracture and fatigue tests. The modelling study showed that the modified Halpin-Tsai equation can fit very well with the measured values of the Young's modulus, when the orientation and agglomeration of the nanotubes are considered. The fracture energy of the nanotube-modified epoxies was predicted, by considering the contributions of the toughening mechanisms of nanotube debonding, nanotube pull-out and plastic void growth of the epoxy. This indicated that debonding and pull-out contribute to the toughening effect, but the contribution of void growth is not significant. There was excellent agreement between the predictions and the experimental results. © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)7525-7535
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Materials Science
    Volume46
    Issue number23
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011

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