Seminar: Tuning the carbon fibre/polymer interface for enhanced composite performance (Prof. Tiffany Walsh)

Thursday, 17 September 2020 - 12:00pm – Thursday, 17 September 2020 - 1:00pm  |  Zoom


The design of new light-weight materials is currently an active research area, driven by the urgent need to replace heavier traditional engineering materials, to e.g. reduce fuel consumption in transport industries. Carbon fibre reinforced polymer composites are promising light-weighting candidates. However, the chemically inert nature of the bare carbon surface may limit the performance of these composites. One possible solution to this problem is to functionalise the fibre surface via the chemical attachment of molecules that can chemically-bond with the polymer matrix. This approach has good potential, but questions remain regarding the design strategy, specifically regarding the chemistry and architecture of these grafted molecules, and their optimal molecular-level interactions with the specific resin in the composite. The thermal stability of the interface and its ability to absorb moisture are also aspects that can degrade the fibre/polymer interface. Experimental approaches cannot readily provide answers to these questions with molecular-level resolution at the fibre-to-resin interface at present. Alternatively, molecular dynamics simulations can offer complementary insights, providing a rational basis for the future design of surface functionalisation strategies. This overview of our modeling research programme will highlight our approach to addressing these challenges, to guide the development of new carbon fibre reinforced polymer composites with superior thermo-mechanical performance.