Self-Healing of a Single Fiber-Reinforced Polymer Matrix Composite
Excellent mechanical properties such as high strength, low specific weight, and impact and corrosion resistance, as well as advanced manufacturing methods and tailor ability of the lay-up make fiber-reinforced polymer matrix composites attractive candidates for use in many performance oriented structures. However, their use is limited due to the difficulty of damage detection and repairs, and lack of extended fatigue resistance. Healing of materials, such as glass, polymers, and concrete, has been investigated [1, 2, 3]. In these investigations, the healing process involved human intervention and thus the materials were not able to self-cure. There has been only a limited amount of research in self-healing of composite materials. Two of these suggest the inclusion of tubes in a brittle matrix material for self-repair of cracks in polymers and corrosion damage in concrete [4,5]. A more recent development at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne, which attracted a considerable amount of attention, was the incorporation of microcapsules that contained a polymer precursor into the matrix material of a composite . The polymer precursor was contained in microcapsules and embedded into the matrix. The matrix contained randomly dispersed catalyst that was supposed to react with the precursor flowing through any crack formed due to damage and initiate polymerization. The polymer was then supposed to bond the crack face closed. The investigators overcame several challenges in developing microcapsules that were weak enough to be ruptured by a crack but strong enough not to break during manufacture of the composite system. The researchers have shown that it was possible to recover up to 75% of the maximum tensile strength of the virgin composites.
KeywordsHealing Agent Hollow Fiber Damage Detection Crack Face Polymer Precursor
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