Controlling the wettability and adhesion of carbon fibers with polymer interfaces via grafted nanofibers

Seokjin Hong, Majid Minary-Jolandan, Mohammad Naraghi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Interfacial properties in carbon fiber composites is one of the key parameters controlling their structural functionality. Here, we introduce a novel method to engineer carbon fiber-epoxy interfaces, via inclusion of nanofibers, towards higher interfacial strength and energy dissipation. In our method, thermally stabilized polyacrylonitrile (PAN) nanofibers are grafted onto carbon fibers via electro-spinning process, followed by nanofiber consolidation via solvent vapor and thermal treatment. These treatments partially dissolves nanofibers along the nanofiber-fiber interface and trigger entropic elasticity in nanofibers, thus, increasing the nanofiber-fiber interactions. The hybridization of carbon fibers with PAN nanofibers increased the interfacial shear strength (IFSS) by ~48%, from 10.8±2.6 to 15.9±4.9MPa. Postmortem fractography points to mechanical interlocking between nanofibers and epoxy and reinforcing effects of nanofibers in matrix as root causes of IFSS enhancement. As a result of adding nanofibers to carbon fiber, junction failure mode changes from a dominantly adhesive failure (at epoxy-fiber interface) to dominantly cohesive failure, and failure plane slightly shifts away from epoxy-fiber interface to within the epoxy. Compared to other types of whiskers grown on carbon fibers, such as CNTs, the method proposed here requires low temperatures (below 300°C), during which no surface damages are expected to accumulate on carbon fibers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-138
Number of pages9
JournalComposites Science and Technology
StatePublished - Sep 9 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Electro-spinning
  • Fiber/matrix bond
  • Hybrid composites
  • Interface
  • Polymer-matrix composites (PMCs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Engineering(all)


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