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Strain Sensing Based on Multiscale Composite Materials Reinforced with Graphene Nanoplatelets

Published: November 7th, 2016



1Materials Science and Engineering Area, University Rey Juan Carlos

The integration of conductive nanoparticles, such as graphene nanoplatelets, into glass fiber composite materials creates an intrinsic electrical network susceptible to strain. Here, different methods to obtain strain sensors based on the addition of graphene nanoplatelets into the epoxy matrix or as a coating on glass fabrics are proposed.

The electrical response of NH2-functionalized graphene nanoplatelets composite materials under strain was studied. Two different manufacturing methods are proposed to create the electrical network in this work: (a) the incorporation of the nanoplatelets into the epoxy matrix and (b) the coating of the glass fabric with a sizing filled with the same nanoplatelets. Both types of multiscale composite materials, with an in-plane electrical conductivity of ~10-3 S/m, showed an exponential growth of the electrical resistance as the strain increases due to distancing between adjacent functionalized graphene nanoplatelets and contact loss between overlying ones. The sensitivity of the materials analyzed during this research, using the described procedures, has been shown to be higher than commercially available strain gauges. The proposed procedures for self-sensing of the structural composite material would facilitate the structural health monitoring of components in difficult to access emplacements such as offshore wind power farms. Although the sensitivity of the multiscale composite materials was considerably higher than the sensitivity of metallic foils used as strain gauges, the value reached with NH2 functionalized graphene nanoplatelets coated fabrics was nearly an order of magnitude superior. This result elucidated their potential to be used as smart fabrics to monitor human movements such as bending of fingers or knees. By using the proposed method, the smart fabric could immediately detect the bending and recover instantly. This fact permits precise monitoring of the time of bending as well as the degree of bending.

Structural health monitoring (SHM) has become increasingly important because of the need to know the remaining life of structures1-3. Nowadays, difficult to access locations, such as offshore wind plants, lead to higher risks in maintenance operations, as well as greater costs2-4. Self-sensing materials constitute one of the possibilities in the field of SHM due to their ability of self-monitoring strain and damage5.

In the case of wind turbines, blades are generally manufactured in glass fiber/epoxy composite materials, which are electrically insulators. In order to confer self-sensing properties to this co....

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1. Preparation of the Functionalized Graphene Nanoplatelet Filled Epoxy for Multiscale Composite Materials

  1. Disperse functionalized graphene nanoplatelets (f-GNPs) into the epoxy resin.
    1. Weigh 24.00 g of f-GNPs to achieve a 12 wt% of the final nanocomposite material inside a ductless fume hood.
    2. Add 143.09 g of the bisphenol A diglycidyl ether (DGEBA) monomer and manually mix it to achieve homogeneity.
    3. Disperse the f-GNPs into the monomer by a twostep method, wh.......

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The protocol to obtain two different materials has been described in the procedure. The difference is in the way the nanoreinforcement is incorporated in the composite material to achieve an electrical network that could be used to strain monitoring. The first method consists of the coating of a glass fiber fabric with f-GNP sizing that can be used as a smart fabric (named f-GNP/glass fiber) or as reinforcement of polymer matrix multiscale composite materials (named f-GNP/glass fiber comp.......

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Self-sensor properties of nanoreinforced composite materials are due to the electrical network created by the f-GNPs through the epoxy matrix and along the glass fibers, which is modified when strain is induced. Dispersion of the f-GNPs is then crucial because the electrical behavior of the sensors strongly depends on the microstructure of the material. Here, we present an optimized procedure to achieve a good dispersion of the GNPs into the epoxy matrix and to avoid wrinkling of the nanoparticles, which causes the detri.......

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The authors would like to acknowledge the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad of Spain Government (Project MAT2013-46695-C3-1-R) and Comunidad de Madrid Government (P2013/MIT-2862).


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
Graphene Nanoplatelets XGScience M25 NA
Epoxy resin  Huntsman Araldite LY556 NA
XB3473 NA
Probe sonication Hielscher  UP400S  NA
Three roll mill Exakt Exakt 80E (Exakt GmbH) NA
Glass fiber fabric Hexcel HexForce ® 01031 1000 TF970 E UD 4H  NA
Hot plate press Fontijne  Fontijne LabEcon300 NA
Sizing Nanocyl SizicylTM NA
Multimeter Alava Ingenieros Agilent 34410A  NA
Strain Gauges Vishay Micro-Measurement (MM®) CEA-06-187UW-120  NA
Mechanical tests machine Zwick Zwick/Roell 100 kN NA
Conductive silver paint Monocomp 16062 – PELCO® Conductive Silver Paint NA

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