Thermal expansion of carbon nanofiber-reinforced multiscale polymer composites

Ronald L. Poveda, Sriniket Achar, Nikhil Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Improved dimensional stability of composites is desired in applications where they are exposed to varying temperature conditions. The current study aims at analyzing the effect of vapor-grown carbon nanofibers (CNFs) on the thermal expansion behavior of epoxy matrix composites and hollow particlefilled composites (syntactic foams). CNFs have a lower coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) than epoxy resin, which results in composites with increased dimensional stability as the CNF content is increased. The experimental measurements show that with 10 wt.% CNF, the composite has about 11.6% lower CTE than the matrix resin. In CNF-reinforced syntactic foams, the CTE of the composite decreases with increasing wall thickness and volume fraction of hollow particle inclusions. With respect to neat epoxy resin, a maximum decrease of 38.4% is also observed in the CNF/syntactic foams with microballoon inclusions that range from 15 vol.% to 50 vol.% in all composite mixtures. The experimental results for CNF/syntactic foam are in agreement with a modified version of Kerner's model. A combination of hollow microparticles and nanofibers has resulted in the ability to tailor the thermal expansion of the composite over a wide range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1148-1157
Number of pages10
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering


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