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Simultaneous global and local strain sensing in SWCNT-epoxy composites by Raman and impedance spectroscopy

Composites Science and Technology
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Polymer composites can be benefited in many ways through the addition of carbon nanotubes (CNT), For instance, CNT can build up a percolated network within the polymer matrix, which results in a composite material with electrical conductivity and piezoresistive characteristics. This has very important implications for the realization of self-stress sensing structural composites. Moreover, the remarkable optical and transport properties of CNT permit to obtain information about the stress state of the composite at different scales. In the present work, the local and global stress response of SWCNT-epoxy composites is characterised by simultaneous Raman spectroscopic and electrical measurements on nanocomposite specimens submitted to different levels of surface strain. Both the Raman G'-band resonance frequency and the electrical resistance of the composite are found to change monotonically with strain until an inflection point is reached at similar to 1.5% strain. Increased sensitivity of the piezoresistive network and lower load transfer efficiency occur beyond this strain level, and are considered to be the result of CNT slippage from the polymer. The reversibility of the stress sensitivity of the composites is verified by performing cyclic loading tests. Hysteresis loop are found to develop earlier on the Raman curves as in the resistance curves, which indicates that even at low strain levels, permanent damage is induced in the vicinity of carbon nanotubes. The use of Raman spectroscopy in combination with electrical methods provides a further insight on the stress sensing capabilities of CNT and the factors which affect the sensitivity and reproducibility of this behaviour. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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