Beilstein journal of nanotechnology

Enhancement of mechanical and electrical properties of continuous-fiber-reinforced epoxy composites with stacked graphene.

PMID 29046838


Impregnation of expandable graphite (EG) after thermal treatment with an epoxy resin containing surface-active agents (SAAs) enhanced the intercalation of epoxy monomer between EG layers and led to further exfoliation of the graphite, resulting in stacks of few graphene layers, so-called "stacked" graphene (SG). This process enabled electrical conductivity of cured epoxy/SG composites at lower percolation thresholds, and improved thermo-mechanical properties were measured with either Kevlar, carbon or glass-fiber-reinforced composites. Several compositions with SAA-modified SG led to higher dynamic moduli especially at high temperatures, reflecting the better wetting ability of the modified nanoparticles. The hydrophilic/hydrophobic nature of the SAA dictates the surface energy balance. More hydrophilic SAAs promoted localization of the SG at the Kevlar/epoxy interface, and morphology seems to be driven by thermodynamics, rather than the kinetic effect of viscosity. This effect was less obvious with carbon or glass fibers, due to the lower surface energy of the carbon fibers or some incompatibility with the glass-fiber sizing. Proper choice of the surfactant and fine-tuning of the crosslink density at the interphase may provide further enhancements in thermo-mechanical behavior.