Scalable High Tensile Modulus Composite Laminates Using Continuous Carbon Nanotube Yarns for Aerospace Applications

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Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


An approach is established for fabricating high-strength and high-stiffness composite laminates with continuous carbon nanotube (CNT) yarns for scaled-up mechanical tests and potential aerospace structure applications. Continuous CNT yarns with up to 80% degree of nanotube alignment and a unique self-assembled graphitic CNT packing result in their specific tensile strengths of 1.77 ± 0.07 N / tex and an apparent specific modulus of 92.6 ± 3.2 N / tex. Unidirectional CNT yarn reinforced composite laminates with a CNT concentration of greater than 80 wt % and minimal microscale voids are fabricated using filament winding and aerospace-grade resin matrices. A specific tensile strength of up to 1.71 GPa / (g cm) and specific modulus of 256 GPa/(g cm) are realized the specific modulus exceeds current state-of-the-art unidirectional carbon fiber composite laminates. The specific modulus of the laminates is 2.76 times greater than the specific modulus of the constituent CNT yarns, a phenomenon not observed in carbon fiber reinforced composites. The results demonstrate an effective approach for fabricating high-strength CNT yarns into composites for applications that require specific tensile modulus properties that are significantly beyond state-of-the-art carbon fiber composites and potentially open an unexplored performance region in the Ashby chart for composite material applications.

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ACS applied nano materials