Fibre Surface Modification with Polydopamine and Graphene Oxide for Improvement of Interface in Composites

  • Lei Zeng

Student thesis: Phd


Carbon and aramid fibre-reinforced composites have been applied in various areas. However, both carbon and aramid fibres have chemically inert surfaces, and the manufactured fibre reinforced composites do not always achieve expectations derived from the properties of its constituents. This research aims to improve the bonding between these fibres and epoxy resin system. Inspired by the composition of adhesive proteins in mussels, dopamine was self-polymerised onto the fibre surfaces via pi-pi stacking to form a nano-thin, surface-adherent polydopamine (PDA) layer. Graphene oxide (GO) was then grafted on fibres through the PDA layer to achieve interface improvement in composites. The fibre surface treatment and modification were performed at ambient temperature and it is non-destructive to the fibres. The scanning electron microscope (SEM) and atomic force microscope (AFM) results indicated that surface roughness was significantly increased after the surface modification. Microbond tests showed that the interfacial shear strength between modified fibre and epoxy resin was improved up to 69.3% and 151.5% for carbon fibre and aramid fibre, respectively. The tensile strength of modified carbon fibre was increased up to 82.1%, while for aramid fibre, the tensile strength was improved up to 24.0%. The X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) results demonstrated that the pi-pi interaction of the PDA- and GO-PDA treated fibre was increased. The strong pi-pi bonding results in enhanced interfacial shear strength between fibre and matrix. The fibre-reinforced composites were developed with modified carbon and aramid fibres. The interlaminar shear strength of composites was increased by 18.8% and 6.3% for GO-PDA modified carbon fibre and aramid fibre composites, respectively. The research indicated that pi-pi interaction based fibre modification has the potential to be extended for surface modification of other chemically inert high-performance fibres. Moreover, this non-destructive approach can improve the composites performance and also extend the applications of fibre-reinforced composites.
Date of Award31 Dec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorXiaogang Chen (Supervisor), Constantinos Soutis (Supervisor) & Xuqing Liu (Supervisor)


  • Fibre reinforced composites
  • Graphene Oxide
  • Polydopamine
  • Interface Improvement
  • Fibre Surface Modification
  • pi-pi interaction

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