Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription Access

Bridging of Carbon Fibers in CF/Epoxy Composites Using Electrostatically Induced CNT Alignment



Carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) composites are lightweight materials with superior strength but are expensive due to the increased cost of carbon fibers (CFs). The addition of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) to polymer nanocomposites are becoming an excellent alternative to CF due to their unique combination of electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties. With the application of an electric field across the CNT/polymer mixture before curing, CNTs will not only be aligned along the electric field direction, but also form networks after reaching to a certain degree of alignment. In this study, an alternating current (AC) electric field was applied continuously to CNT/CF/Epoxy hybrid composites before curing. By cutting off the applied voltage when the monitored electric current increased, the degree of networking of CNTs between two CF tows was controlled. The relative electric field strength around the end of conductive carbon fiber tows in the epoxy matrix was modeled using COMSOL Multiphysics. It increased after applying AC electric field parallel to the CF tows, thereby increasing the alignment degree of CNTs and building a network to bridge the CF tows. The preliminary results indicate that the microhardness and tensile modulus between two CF tows are increased due to the networking of CNTs in this area. The fracture surface of the specimens after tensile tests were characterized to reveal more details of the microstructure.


Full Text:



Meng, F., McKechnie, J., Turner, T., Wong, K. H. & Pickering, S. J. Environmental Aspects of

Use of Recycled Carbon Fiber Composites in Automotive Applications. Environmental Science

and Technology 51, 12727–12736 (2017).

Brunner, A. J. Fracture mechanics characterization of polymer composites for aerospace

applications. Polymer Composites in the Aerospace Industry (Elsevier Ltd, 2015).


Liu, Y. & Kumar, S. Recent progress in fabrication, structure, and properties of carbon fibers.

Polymer Reviews 52, 234–258 (2012).

Das, T. K., Ghosh, P. & Das, N. C. Preparation, development, outcomes, and application

versatility of carbon fiber-based polymer composites: a review. Advanced Composites and

Hybrid Materials 2, 214–233 (2019).

Nguyen-Tran, H. D., Hoang, V. T., Do, V. T., Chun, D. M. & Yum, Y. J. Effect of multiwalled

carbon nanotubes on the mechanical properties of carbon fiber-reinforced polyamide-

/polypropylene composites for lightweight automotive parts. Materials 11, (2018).

Patel, M., Pardhi, B., Chopara, S. & Pal, M. Lightweight Composite Materials for Automotive -

A Review. Concepts Journal of Applied Research 3, 1–9 (2018).

Arash, B., Wang, Q. & Varadan, V. K. Mechanical properties of carbon nanotube/polymer

composites. Scientific Reports 4, 1–8 (2014).

Tan, W., Stallard, J. C., Smail, F. R., Boies, A. M. & Fleck, N. A. The mechanical and electrical

properties of direct-spun carbon nanotube mat-epoxy composites. Carbon 150, 489–504 (2019).

Russ, M., Rahatekar, S. S., Koziol, K., Farmer, B. & Peng, H. X. Length-dependent electrical

and thermal properties of carbon nanotube-loaded epoxy nanocomposites. Composites Science

and Technology 81, 42–47 (2013).

Salvetat-Delmotte, J. P. & Rubio, A. Mechanical properties of carbon nanotubes: A fiber digest

for beginners. Carbon 40, 1729–1734 (2002).

Kausar, A., Rafique, I. & Muhammad, B. Review of Applications of Polymer/Carbon

Nanotubes and Epoxy/CNT Composites. Polymer - Plastics Technology and Engineering 55,

–1191 (2016).

Abishera, R., Velmurugan, R. & Gopal, K. V. N. Reversible plasticity shape memory effect in

carbon nanotubes reinforced epoxy nanocomposites. Composites Science and Technology 137,

–158 (2016).

Laird, E. D. & Li, C. Y. Structure and morphology control in crystalline polymer-carbon

nanotube nanocomposites. Macromolecules 46, 2877–2891 (2013).

Moniruzzaman, M. & Winey, K. I. Polymer nanocomposites containing carbon nanotubes.

Macromolecules 39, 5194–5205 (2006).

Tang, W., Santare, M. H. & Advani, S. G. Melt processing and mechanical property

characterization of multi-walled carbon nanotube/high density polyethylene (MWNT/HDPE)

composite films. Carbon 41, 2779–2785 (2003).

Kinloch, I. A., Suhr, J., Lou, J., Young, R. J. & Ajayan, P. M. Composites with carbon

nanotubes and graphene: An outlook. Science 362, 547–553 (2018).

Prasse, T., Cavaillé, J. Y. & Bauhofer, W. Electric anisotropy of carbon nanofibre/epoxy resin

composites due to electric field induced alignment. Composites Science and Technology 63,

–1841 (2003).

Gong, S., Zhu, Z. H. & Meguid, S. A. Anisotropic electrical conductivity of polymer

composites with aligned carbon nanotubes. Polymer 56, 498–506 (2015).

Martin, C. A. et al. Electric field-induced aligned multi-wall carbon nanotube networks in epoxy

composites. Polymer 46, 877–886 (2005).

Chapkin, W. A. et al. Real-time assessment of carbon nanotube alignment in a polymer matrix

under an applied electric field via polarized Raman spectroscopy. Polymer Testing 56, 29–35


Chapkin, W. A. Electrostatically Induced Carbon Nanotube Alignment for Polymer Composite

Applications. 1–82 (2017).

Zhang, D., Saukas, C., He, Y., Wang, R. & Taub, A. I. Temperature dependence of singlewalled

carbon nanotube migration in epoxy resin under DC electric field. Journal of Materials

Science 55, 16220–16233 (2020).

Chapkin, W. A., Wenderott, J. K., Green, P. F. & Taub, A. I. Length dependence of

electrostatically induced carbon nanotube alignment. Carbon 131, 275–282 (2018).


  • There are currently no refbacks.