Aramid fibers are famous for their high specific strength and energy absorption properties and have been intensively used for soft body armor and ballistic protection. However, the use of aramid fiber reinforced composites is barely observed in structural applications. Aramid fibers have smooth and inert surfaces that are unable to form robust adhesion to polymeric matrices due to their high crystallinity. Here, a novel method to effectively integrate aramid fibers into composites is developed through utilization of aramid nanofibers. Aramid nanofibers are prepared from macroscale aramid fibers (such as Kevlar®) and isolated through a simple and scalable dissolution method. Prepared aramid nanofibers are dispersible in many polymers due to their improved surface reactivity, meanwhile preserve the conjugated structure and likely the strength of their macroscale counterparts. Simultaneously improved elastic modulus, strength and fracture toughness are observed in aramid nanofiber reinforced epoxy nanocomposites. When integrated in continuous fiber reinforced composites, aramid nanofibers can also enhance interfacial properties by forming hydrogen bonds and π-π coordination to bridge matrix and macroscale fibers. Such multiscale reinforcement by aramid nanofibers and continuous fibers results in strong polymeric composites with robust mechanical properties that are necessary and long desired for structural applications.
Jiajun Lin, Brendan A. Patterson, Mohammad H. Malakooti, and Henry A. Sodano, "Isolation of aramid nanofibers for high strength multiscale fiber reinforced composites," Proc. SPIE 10596, Behavior and Mechanics of Multifunctional Materials and Composites XII, 105961L (Presented at SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring: March 08, 2018; Published: 22 March 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2300515.
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