Carbon nanotube reinforced aluminum based nanocomposite fabricated by thermal spray forming

Tapas Laha, Florida International University


The present research concentrates on the fabrication of bulk aluminum matrix nanocomposite structures with carbon nanotube reinforcement. The objective of the work was to fabricate and characterize multi-walled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) reinforced hypereutectic Al-Si (23 wt% Si, 2 wt% Ni, 1 wt% Cu, rest Al) nanocomposite bulk structure with nanocrystalline matrix through thermal spray forming techniques viz. plasma spray forming (PSF) and high velocity oxy-fuel (HVOF) spray forming. This is the first research study, which has shown that thermal spray forming can be successfully used to synthesize carbon nanotube reinforced nanocomposites. Microstructural characterization based on quantitative microscopy, scanning and transmission electron microscopy (SEM and TEM), energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), X-ray diffraction (XRD), Raman spectroscopy and X ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) confirms (i) retention and macro/sub-macro level homogenous distribution of multiwalled carbon nanotubes in the Al-Si matrix and (ii) evolution of nanostructured grains in the matrix. Formation of ultrathin β-SiC layer on MWCNT surface, due to chemical reaction of Si atoms diffusing from Al-Si alloy and C atoms from the outer walls of MWCNTs has been confirmed theoretically and experimentally. The presence of SiC layer at the interface improves the wettability and the interfacial adhesion between the MWCNT reinforcement and the Al-Si matrix. ^ Sintering of the as-sprayed nanocomposites was carried out in an inert environment for further densification. As-sprayed PSF nanocomposite showed lower microhardness compared to HVOF, due to the higher porosity content and lower residual stress. The hardness of the nanocomposites increased with sintering time due to effective pore removal. Uniaxial tensile test on CNT-bulk nanocomposite was carried out, which is the first ever study of such nature. The tensile test results showed inconsistency in the data attributed to inhomogeneous microstructure and limitation of the test samples geometry. The elastic moduli of nanocomposites were computed using different micromechanics models and compared with experimentally measured values. The elastic moduli of nanocomposites measured by nanoindentation technique, increased gradually with sintering attributed to porosity removal. The experimentally measured values conformed better with theoretically predicted values, particularly in the case of Hashin-Shtrikman bound method. ^

Subject Area

Engineering, Materials Science

Recommended Citation

Laha, Tapas, "Carbon nanotube reinforced aluminum based nanocomposite fabricated by thermal spray forming" (2006). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3249712.