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Not-weak knots bolster carbon fiber: New material created with graphene oxide flakes

Posted on July 9, 2013
Rice University graduate student Changsheng Xiang spun fibers from graphene oxide flakes. The fibers are as strong at knots as anywhere along their length and should be suitable for weaving into advanced fabrics. Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

Rice University graduate student Changsheng Xiang spun fibers from graphene oxide flakes. The fibers are as strong at knots as anywhere along their length and should be suitable for weaving into advanced fabrics. Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

Large flakes of graphene oxide are the essential ingredient in a new recipe for robust carbon fiber created at Rice University.

The fiber spun at Rice is unique for the strength of its knots. Most fibers are most likely to snap under tension at the knot, but Rice’s fiber demonstrates what the researchers refer to as “100 percent knot efficiency,” where the fiber is as likely to break anywhere along its length as at the knot.

The new work from the Rice lab of chemist James Tour appears online today in the journal Advanced Materials.

The material could be used to increase the strength of many products that use carbon fiber, like composites for strong, light aircraft or fabrics for bulletproof apparel, according to the researchers.

“To see this is very strange,” Tour said. “The knot is as strong as any other part of the fiber. That never happens in a carbon fiber or polymer fibers.”

Credit goes to the unique properties of graphene oxide flakes created in an environmentally friendly process patented by Rice a few years ago. The flakes that are chemically extracted from graphite seem small. They have an average diameter of 22 microns, a quarter the width of an average human hair. But they’re massive compared with the petroleum-based pitch used in current carbon fiber. “The pitch particles are two nanometers in size, which makes our flakes about ten thousand times larger,” said Rice graduate student Changsheng Xiang, lead author of the new paper.

Read more at: Phys.org

 

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