Researchers Create Flexible Composites

The Chou research group recently reported success in fabricating flexible composites based on carbon nanotube (CNT) fibres in the high impact factor journal, Advanced Functional Materials (AFM).

Both light and strong, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are known as a revolutionary material with excellent mechanical, electrical and thermal properties. Continuous CNT fibres are one-dimensional assemblies of CNTs that show potential to retain the superb properties of individual CNTs on a macroscopic scale. They belong to a new class of nano-structured materials with potential applications in electronics, sensing and conducting wires.

Motivated by their high electrical conductivity and ability to kink without cracking, Tsu-Wei Chou, Pierre S. du Pont Chair of Engineering, and his research team used CNT fibres to fabricate a stretchable conductor. The result was a CNT fibre/PDMS flexible composite that can be subjected to repeated stretching-and-releasing cycles up to a prestrain level of 40 percent with little variation in electrical resistance.

According to the paper’s lead author Mei Zu, a visiting student from Tongji University in Shanghai, China, these findings demonstrate the potential of these flexible CNT fibres to be used as reinforcements for ultra-light weight multifunctional composites.

Under Chou’s guidance, Zu spent two years exploring the electrical and mechanical behaviour of CNT-based fibres and composites as a doctoral student in UD’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and at the Centre for Composite Materials.

This research was supported in part by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the National Research Foundation of Korea through the Global Research Laboratory program.

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