Multi-scale reinforcement of CFRPs using carbon nanofibers

M. J. Palmeri, K. W. Putz, T. Ramanathan, L. C. Brinson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


In this paper, stacked-cup carbon nanofibers (CNF) were dispersed in the matrix phase of carbon-fiber-reinforced composites based on a high-performance epoxy system with and without modification by an elastomeric triblock copolymer (TCP) for increased toughness. The addition of the TCP provided an enhancement in toughness at the cost of a slight degradation in modulus and strength. The CNFs, on the other hand, provided significantly enhanced strength and stiffness in matrix-dominated configurations, including tension of quasi-isotropic composites and short beam shear strength of both quasi-isotropic and unidirectional composites. Scanning electron microscopy revealed enhanced adhesion between the matrix and carbon fibers with the addition of either TCP or CNFs. However, CNF agglomeration in the studied systems partially offset the energy dissipation processes brought about by the nanofibers, thereby limiting interlaminar fracture toughness enhancements by CNF addition. These results show good promise for CNFs as low-cost reinforcement for composites while offering insight into the codependent morphologies of multi-scale phases and their influence over bulk properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-86
Number of pages8
JournalComposites Science and Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 17 2011


  • A. Carbon fibers
  • A. Hybrid composites
  • A. Nanocomposites
  • B. Fiber/matrix bond
  • B. Interface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Engineering(all)

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