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Stronger, Lighter, Tougher Carbon Fibre

Deakin University PhD student Linden Servinis is adding “chemical arms” to carbon fibre surfaces in a bid to make materials stronger, lighter and more crash-resistant.

Carbon fibre composites are comprised of weaved carbon fibres covered in a layer of plastic resin, but when these materials are subjected to high impact, the fibres often pull away from the resin.

“This research seeks to prevent composite failure by adding new chemical arms with reactive chemical hands at the ends. These hands can then grab onto the resin in a chemical reaction and prevent failure, making a stronger material,” Servinis said.

“Current carbon fibre production includes an electrolytic oxidation process which introduces oxygen functional groups to the surface, and roughens the fibre which improves bonding between fibre and resin,” Servinis said. “While the oxidation helps bonding, it does not introduce the ‘reactive chemical hands’ which can hold onto the resin layer the same way our chemical arms can.”

With automotive and aerospace interest in large-scale production of carbon fibre, researchers are looking at the interaction between fibre and resin as a way to maximise composite performance. “Carbon fibre composites are looking to be the next ‘aluminium’. With incredibly strong and light-weight properties, they have incredible potential to maximise fuel efficiency,” Servinis said.