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Nano-composites are materials made up of two or more constituents where at least one is dispersed (or exhibits discrete features) at the nanometre length scale. This may produce an extremely high interfacial area density, which can result in the macroscopic material properties being radically different from those of the individual constituents, without a dramatic increase in structural mass. This applies to all physical properties including mechanical, optical, electromagnetic, etc.

The aim of this PhD project is to compare nano-reinforcement improvements in fracture toughness and impact resistance relative to other through thickness reinforcement techniques such as z-pinning, stitching, 3D-weaving, etc. Particular attention will be paid to reinforcement techniques that are usable at an industrial scale.

In order to do this, the following objectives will be set:

  • Manufacture simple coupons with and without different types of nano-reinforcements.
  • Test for basic strength / fracture properties under a variety of loading and environmental conditions.
  • Conduct fractography and material characterisation analysis to help interpret the results of the mechanical tests.
  • Develop computational models that enable the equivalent elastic properties of the nanomaterials to be estimated.
  • Using these elastic properties, develop additional computational models with increased geometric complexity to predict failure.
  • Manufacture and test geometrically more complex specimens and compare failure response to model predictions.

The development of modelling tools for nanocomposites will enable them to be used in composite design, for example as a method to delay or guide failure in a controlled manner.



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