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Nanocomposites with Interlocking Nanostructures

Innovative material shows significant improvement in tensile strength and strain at break than current comparable materials at half the weight. The superior mechanical properties at lower weight also allows more complicated geometric shapes than the current materials and better effectiveness in load bearing and distribution.


Structural composites can be associated with poor inter-laminar and transverse properties within the composite that can lead to inter-laminar failures, such as delamination, because the matrix substrate lacks the desired strength for many high-performance applications. Structural composites often contain reinforcements, such as laminated layers, which are bonded together by a matrix substrate. The matrix substrate often dominates inter-laminar and transverse (i.e., through-the-thickness and between layers) properties of the structural composites because the matrix alone bonds the laminated layers together. To overcome this problem, three-dimensional (3D) composites, such as 3D stitching and 3D braiding, have been proposed to include microscale structures (e.g., Z-pinning) that extend transversely through the composites. Such proposed 3D composites can be difficult to control dimensionally (e.g., thickness), may compromise desired properties of the laminated layers within the composite, or can lack multi-functionality characteristics that are desirable in various composite applications.

The present invention is a novel nanocomposite structure containing reinforcement microstructures that are mechanically interlocked together with nanostructures. The nanocomposite materials system presented resists failure of the microfibers, which results in improved interlaminar and ‘through-the-thickness’ properties. Various forms and configurations the nanomaterial can be created, which depends upon the type of composite material being manufactured. This system involves fiber reinforcement strands in a bundle that are highly entangled and interlocked together in a multitude of directions by nanostructures, such as carbon nanotubules (CNTs). Materials reinforced with this method can be compared to a “birds nest” because of the high entanglement of nanostructures. It can also be compared to the fibrous high-performing materials that are observed in nature, such as a spider’s net and silk. Nanocomposite materials designed with this system provides multiple benefits, which include high-performing multifunctional material, increased mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties.

The proposed innovative design for highly-reinforced nanocomposite materials system has a wide variety of applications due to the high-performance of the material system. It has application anywhere high strength/light weight is desired such as space and aerospace structures, electronic and biomedical devices and sensors, energy and materials storage, sporting goods and gear, and parts in automotive and any transportation industry. Potential customers include NASA, Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems, Airbus, Department of Defense, automakers all over the globe and many more.

According to BCC Research, in 2016 the market value for nanotechnology was $39.2 billion and is expected to reach a value of $90.5 billion by 2021, making for an estimated five-year compound annual growth rate of 18.2%. Within that broad range nanotechnology can encompass, nanomaterials dominated 83.3% of the market in 2015. This is due to the fact that nanomaterials have a wide range of applications, which include industries from medical to energy storage and many others. In the development of nanomaterials carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have become one of the most prominent materials that has shown great potential. Carbon nanotubes products specifically are anticipated to grow at a five-year compound annual growth rate of 16.9% from 2016-2021.

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Wichita State University

Intellectual Property Protection

Pending Patent

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