Developing Nanocomposites with Highly Aligned Nanoscale Reinforcement

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Sch of Engineering


EPSRC Portfolio: Manufacturing the Future theme, research areas: Complex Fluids & Rheology (maintain), Materials Engineering - Composites (maintain)

The development of nanocomposites is a highly exciting emerging field of research; formed by the addition of nanomaterials such as graphene and carbon nanotubes in to polymers, it has been shown that nanocomposites can have significantly enhanced mechanical and electrical properties. The ability to control the alignment of nanomaterials in polymers opens up a fascinating new set of material properties that can be further enhanced and varied with direction. Such materials will open up new applications in a wide range of structural, electrical and barrier fields. The science that underpins such materials sits at the boundary between materials science, chemistry and physics. This project presents an excellent opportunity to work with Mechanical and Electrical Engineers from Cardiff School of Engineering, staff from the Catalysis Institute in the Cardiff School of Chemistry and industry partners Haydale Ltd., who are a leading UK supplier and processor of nanomaterials.

The project will focus on the manufacture of polymer based nanocomposites with highly aligned graphene and carbon nanotube reinforcements that exhibit directionally dependent mechanical and electrical properties, when compared with randomly orientated nanocomposites. A strong scientific understanding of these materials will be developed through testing and analysis. The work will seek to develop nanomaterial processing techniques, initially focussing on wet chemistry, that enhance their tendency to align within a magnetic field. Techniques for mixing and processing nanocomposites will be optimised and the extent of nanomaterial alignment and the subsequent effect on material properties will be investigated.

The candidate will receive training and develop skills in a broad range of techniques in relation to chemical processing of nanomaterials; nanomaterials handling; nanocomposite manufacturing; use of magnetic devices; mechanical and electrical testing of composites; materials analysis and inspection (including XPS, XRD, electron microscopy and AFM).


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509449/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1805057 Studentship EP/N509449/1 01/10/2016 30/10/2020 Kyriaki GKALIOU
EP/S514998/1 01/10/2018 31/08/2020
1805057 Studentship EP/S514998/1 01/10/2016 30/10/2020 Kyriaki GKALIOU
Description The PhD project aims to explore the functionalisation process of carbon nanofillers with magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles by co-precipitation method and to align the resultant carbon nanohybrids in epoxy resin for developing epoxy nanocomposites with anisotropic electrical and mechanical properties.
Through my first two years,magnetic-graphene sheets have been developed which can be orientated in an epoxy infusion resin using a very low magnetic field (below 100mT). The surface chemistry of these magnetic nanohybrids were analysed using various chemical methods and also the orientation study was performed via Optical Microscope, Small Angle X-ray Scattering and Scanning Electron Microscope.
This project has been presented in many intarnational conferences, such as 23rd Soft Magnetic Materials (Spain, 2017), International Confererence in Materials Chemistry-Royal Society of Chemistry (Liverpool, 2017), European Conference in Composite Materials (ECCM, 2018) etch. Also, two conference papers has been published and one journal paper is ready to submit.
Exploitation Route Firstly, this project could be a beginning of this reasearch area in my group. A new PhD scholarship has been funded which related to my work , but it is focused mainly in computational analysis than experimental.
Moreover, if more publications will be arised, they could be developed by other research groups and this could help us to build new collaborations.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Electronics

Description Imperial College-Thermal Conductivity measurements 
Organisation Imperial College London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Thermal Conductivity measurements of aligned graphene nanoplatelets in the epoxy matrices were performed with the Department of Materials, Imperial College London.
Collaborator Contribution Different concentrations of random dispersed and aligned graphene sheets were performed which provided various information about the thermal properties og the manufactured materials.
Impact still in progress
Start Year 2018