A team of researchers has created new composites by stacking layers of ceramic cloth with interlocking nano-tubes that provide "remarkable improvements " in strength and toughness compared to traditional materials.
The scientists believe that the "nano-tube sandwiches", which are described in the 7 May online edition of the journal Nature Materials, could find uses in a wide array of structural applications.
"Nano-tubes are a very versatile material with absolutely fascinating physical properties, all the way from ballistic conduction to really interesting mechanical behavior," said Pulickel Ajayan, the Henry Burlage professor of materials science and engineering at Rensselaer, and a lead author of the paper along with colleagues at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa.
For their current project, the researchers are applying the process to a new area: reinforced composite fabrics made from woven ceramic fibers.
These materials have been used for decades in structural applications, but tend to perform poorly in terms of "through-thickness", or the ability of a material to respond to forces applied perpendicular to the fabric-stacking direction.
"We have demonstrated that these through-thickness properties can be improved by adding nano-tube Velcro-like structures between the layers," said Mehrdad Ghasemi-Nejhad, professor of mechanical engineering at Hawaii and a lead author of the paper.
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