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Damage-Resistant Composites Using Electrospun Nanofibers: A Multiscale Analysis of the Toughening Mechanisms

Daelemans L., van der Heijden S., De Baere I., Rahier H., Van Paepegem W. and De Clerck K.Damage-Resistant Composites Using Electrospun Nanofibers: A Multiscale Analysis of the Toughening Mechanisms,ACS APPLIED MATERIALS & INTERFACES,8(18): 11806-11818,2016 (MAY).

doi: 10.1021/acsami.6b02247

Today, fiber-reinforced polymer composites are a standard material in applications where a high stiffness and strength are required at minimal weight, such as aerospace structures, ultralight vehicles, or even flywheels for highly efficient power storage systems. Although fiber-reinforced polymer composites show many advantages compared to other materials, delamination between reinforcing plies remains a major problem limiting further breakthrough. Traditional solutions that have been proposed to toughen the interlaminar region between reinforcing plies have already reached their limit or have important disadvantages such as a high cost or the need for adapted production processes. Recently, electrospun nanofibers have been suggested as a more viable interlaminar toughening method. Although the expected benefits are numerous, the research on composite laminates enhanced with electrospun nanofibrous veils is still very limited. The work that has been done so far is almost exclusively focused on interlaminar fracture toughness tests with different kinds of nanofibers, where typically a trial and error approach has been used. A thorough understanding of the micromechanical fracture mechanisms and the parameters to obtain toughened composites has not been reported as of yet, but it is crucial to advance the research and design highly damage-resistant composites. This article provides such insight by analyzing the nanofiber toughening effect on three different levels for several nanofiber types. Only by combining the results from different levels, a thorough understanding can be obtained. These levels correspond to the hierarchical nature of a composite: the laminate, the interlaminar region, and the matrix resin. It is found that each level corresponds to certain mechanisms that result in a toughening effect. The bridging of microcracks by electrospun nanofibers is the main toughening mechanism resulting in damage resistance. Nevertheless, the way in which the nanofiber bridging mechanism expresses itself is different for each scale and dependent on parameters linked to a certain scale. The multiscale analysis of the toughening mechanisms reported in this paper is therefore crucial for understanding the behavior of nanofiber toughened composites, and as such allows for designing novel, damage-resistant, nanofiber-toughened materials.


    author  = "Daelemans, L.; van der Heijden, S.; De Baere, I.; Rahier, H.; Van Paepegem, W.; De Clerck, K.",
    title   = "Damage-Resistant Composites Using Electrospun Nanofibers: A Multiscale Analysis of the Toughening Mechanisms",
    year    = "2016",
    volume  = "8",
    number  = "18",
    pages   = "11806-11818",
    month   = "MAY",
    doi     = "10.1021/acsami.6b02247",
    note    = "",