Nanocomposite Interphases for Improved Transparent Polymer Composite Materials

Report No. ARL-TR-4527
Authors: Daniel J. O'Brien; Jason Robinette; James R. Heflin; Jason Ridley
Date/Pages: August 2008; 32 pages
Abstract: The U.S. Army has a critical need for a lighter, more varied array of visibly transparent materials which are currently limited to a handful of polymers and ceramics. This limitation restricts the design of lightweight transparent laminates since only a narrow range of mechanical properties are available, and the proper design of these structures often relies on the engineer's ability to specify the acoustic impedance of each layer. Composite materials offer the ability to tailor mechanical properties but, due to scattering at multiple interfaces, are not typically transparent unless the refractive indices (RI) of composite constituents (e.g., glass fibers and polymer matrix) are well matched. In these cases, sufficient index matching exists over a relatively narrow temperature range since the matrix RI is highly temperature dependent. In this report, we demonstrate improved temperature performance in a model glass fiber-solvent composite by coating conventional micron-sized glass fibers with glass nanoparticles. After infiltration with a model matrix material, the nanoparticles provide an intermediate refractive index interphase that smoothes any step change in RI that develops between the matrix and glass fibers.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: August 1, 2008