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Theses Doctoral

Interlaminar Toughening of Fiber Reinforced Polymers

Bian, Dakai

Modification in the resin-rich region between plies, also known as the interlaminar region, was investigated to increase the toughness of laminate composites structures. To achieve suitable modifications, the complexities of the physical and chemical processes during the resin curing procedure must be studied. This includes analyses of the interactions among the co-dependent microstructure, process parameters, and material responses. This dissertation seeks to investigate these interactions via a series of experimental and numerical analyses of the geometric- and temperature-based effects on locally interleaving toughening methods and further interlaminar synergistic toughening without interleaf.
Two major weaknesses in composite materials are the brittle resin-rich interlaminar region which forms between the fiber plies after resin infusion, and the ply dropoff region which introduces stress concentration under loads. To address these weaknesses and increase the delamination resistance of the composite specimens, a dual bonding process was explored to alleviate the dropoff effect and toughen the interlaminar region. Hot melt bonding was investigated by applying clamping pressure to ductile thermoplastic interleaf and fiber fabric at an elevated temperature, while diffusion bonding between thermoplastic interleaf and thermoset resin is performed during the resin infusion. This method increased the fracture energy level and thus delamination resistance in the interlaminar region because of deep interleaf penetration into fiber bundles which helped confining crack propagation in the toughened area.
The diffusion and precipitation between thermosets and thermoplastics also improved the delamination resistance by forming a semi-interpenetration networks. This phenomenon was investigated in concoctions of low-concentration polystyrene additive modified epoxy system, which facilitates diffusion and precipitation without increasing the viscosity of the system. Additionally, chemical reaction induced phase separation, concentration of polystyrene, and various curing temperatures are used to evaluate their effects on diffusion and precipitation. These effects were directly investigated by performing attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR). The diffusivity and curing kinetics experiments are performed to quantify the diffusivity coefficient of epoxy, hardener and thermoplastics, as well as the reaction rate constant of curing epoxy at various temperatures. Finally, mechanical testing and fracture surface imaging were used to quantify the improvements and characterize the toughening mechanism.
Further improvement on delamination resistance was studied through the synergistic effect of combining different modification methods without the interleaf. Polysulfone molecules are end-capped with epoxide groups. Fiber surface is functionalized with amino groups to generate micro-mechanical interlocks. The interaction between two individual modifications chemically links the modified semi-interpenetration networks to the improved interfacial strength between fiber and epoxy to. The impact of the additive on the crosslinking density was examined through glass transition temperatures, and the chemical modification was characterized by Raman spectroscopy. Mode I and II fracture tests were performed to quantify the improvement of delamination resistance under pure opening and shear loads. The mechanism of synergistic effect was explained based on the fracture surface morphology and the interactions between the modification methods.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Mechanical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Yao, Y. Lawrence
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 9, 2018