In situ sensing of non-linear deformation and damage in epoxy particulate composites

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Damage sensing of epoxy particulate composites was investigated using multi-wall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) under quasi-static uniaxial tensile loading. Two types of particulates, namely (a) aluminum silicate hollow microspheres (cenospheres), and (b) liquid carboxyl-terminated butadiene acrylonitrile (CTBN) rubber were considered in this study. The influence of three different volume fractions of cenospheres (10%, 20% and 30%) and three different weight fractions of CTBN resin (10, 20 and 30phr) on the electromechanical response was studied. A four-circumferential ring probe (FCRP) technique was employed to measure the electrical resistance of the test specimen as a function of the axial strain. The resistance-strain curve is compared with a simultaneously measured mechanical stress-strain curve. The electromechanical measurement show additional stages of material deformation not readily revealed from the mechanical stress-strain curve. The resistance change associated with the unfolding of entangled polymer chains and further straightening of the polymer chains decreased the distance between CNTs, causing improved electron hopping in all composites except 30% cenospheres composite. The U-shaped electrical response demonstrated by both 20 and 30phr rubber composites exploited the CNT sensory network successfully by providing early warning of composite failure due to micro-crack propagation which resulted in breaking of the CNT network. © 2012 IOP Publishing Ltd.

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Smart Materials and Structures