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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Multifunctional composites : healing, heating and electromagnetic integration

  • Author(s): Plaisted, Thomas Anthony John
  • et al.

Multifunctional materials, in the context of this research, integrate other functions into materials that foremost have outstanding structural integrity. Details of the integration of electromagnetic, heating, and healing functionalities into fiber-reinforced polymer composites are presented. As a result of fiber/wire integration through textile braiding and weaving, the dielectric constant of a composite may be tuned from negative to positive values. These wires are further leveraged to uniformly heat the composite through resistive heating. A healing functionality is introduced by utilizing a polymer matrix with the ability to heal internal cracking through thermally- reversible covalent bonds based on Diels-Alder cycloaddition. The Double Cleavage Drilled Compression (DCDC) specimen is applied to study the fracture and healing characteristics of the neat polymer. This method allows for quantitative evaluation of incremental crack growth, and ensures that the cracked sample remains in one piece after the test, improving the ability to re-align the fracture surfaces prior to healing. Initially, the fracture strength of PMMA is studied with various DCDC geometries to develop a model of the propagation of a crack within this type of specimen. Applied to the healable polymer (2MEP4F), repeated fracture-healing cycles demonstrate that treatment at temperatures between 85 to 95⁰C results in full fracture toughness recovery and no dimensional changes due to creep. The fracture toughness after each fracturing and healing cycle has been calculated, using the model, to yield a fracture toughness of about 0.71 MPa·m1/2 for this material at room temperature. Glass and carbon fiber-reinforced composites have been fabricated with the 2MEP4F polymer, and the ability of this polymer to heal microcracks in fiber- reinforced composites is demonstrated. Microcracks have been introduced into the composites by cryogenic cycling in liquid nitrogen, causing a reduction in the storage modulus of the composites as measured by Dynamic Mechanical Thermal Analysis (DMTA). Heating the laminate with pressure applied normal to transverse microcracks appeared to repair the cracks and partially recover of the composite's stiffness. Multifunctional composites with such unique capabilities have tremendous potential to impact future structural applications

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