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COMPOSITES
SCIENCE AND
TECHNOLOGY
Composites Science and Technology 68 (2008) 718–726
www.elsevier.com/locate/compscitech

Understanding the effect of nano-modifier addition upon the
properties of fibre reinforced laminates
Marino Quaresimin a, Russell J. Varley
a

b,*

Department of Management and Engineering, University of Padova, 36100 Vicenza, Italy
CSIRO Manufacturing and Materials and Technology, Clayton South 3168, Australia

b

Received 27 February 2007; received in revised form 23 August 2007; accepted 13 September 2007
Available online 20 September 2007

Abstract
This work presents a survey of the effect of three different commercially available nano-modifiers on the mechanical properties of an
epoxy/anhydride unidirectional carbon fibre reinforced laminates. The nano-modifiers consisted of an organo-modified layered silicate,
vapour grown carbon fibre (VGCF) and a triblock copolymer (SBM). The work has shown that tensile modulus exhibited little difference
between the unmodified laminates while a modest decrease was observed for the tensile strength. Properties related to the toughness of
the matrix, demonstrated improvements compared to the unmodified laminate such as the notch sensitivity under compression, ILSS and
GIIC performance. The improvement of the GIIC for the VGCF modifier in particular was found to be over 100%. It was suggested that
high aspect ratio of the nano-additive helped to constrain the growth of the micro-cracks which in turn delayed failure. Mode I GIC
performance however, was found to decrease as a result of the fibre tows preventing optimum dispersion of the modifier. The effect
of this was a very high ‘‘effective’’ clay concentration in the interlayer resin rich regions and a less than optimum fibre dispersion, results
in promotion of the propagating crack rather than inhibition. 
2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: A. Particle reinforced composites; B. Fracture toughness; A. Layered Structures

1. Introduction
The use of nano-additives, such as organo-modified layered silicates, carbon nanofibres or nanotubes and others,
to reinforce epoxy resins has generated significant interest
both academically and commercially in recent times [1–4].
This interest is primarily a result of the concurrent
improvements in mechanical properties such as toughness,
strength and modulus, as well as improvements and thermal properties such as fire performance, degradation and
glass transition temperatures (amongst others), at low levels of addition that allows the use of existing processing
methods. It has been well documented however, that to
achieve these property improvements, the nano-additive

*

Corresponding author. Tel.: +61 3 9545 2491; fax: +61 3 9544 1128.
E-mail address: russell.varley@csiro.au (R.J. Varley).

0266-3538/$ - see front matter  2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.compscitech.2007.09.005

must be sufficiently dispersed and compatible with the
epoxy resin. Depending upon the nano-additive in question, this brings a range of associated challenges unique
to the material. In the case of layered silicates, the lateral
dimensions of the clay platelets are of the order of microns
in area, around 1 nm thick and arranged in stacks known
as tactoids [5]. Complete exfoliation, therefore requires
the separation of the tactoids from the primary particle,
followed by the destruction of the order or the clay platelets within the tactoids. Although it is widely reported that
full exfoliation of the clay platelets will maximise the
improvement in strength, modulus and toughness [4,6], it
has also been suggested that a balance between an exfoliated and intercalated structure may be preferable to maximise modulus and toughness enhancements in epoxy resin
matrices [7]. Boo et al. [8] reached similar conclusions that
toughening mechanisms in nano-platelet reinforced
composites, such as crack deflection or crack pinning, are

N.M. The composition of the base matrix formulation was as follows: 29 phr of DER331 resin. Rice et al. 2. They have a diameter of 200 nm and their length can range between 30 and 100 lm.E.1.R. although they did report a significant reduction in transversal microcracking during cryogenic cycling of nanoclay composites compared to traditional composites. The anhydride hardener was a hexa-hydrophthalic anhydride (XD5200) supplied by Ciba Specialty Chemicals (Australia). namely organo-modified layered silicate (nanoclay). which particularly highlights the difficulty of reducing the electrostatic forces while not degrading the fibre and hence compromising the composite properties. reported negligible improvements in mechanical properties. Three commercially available nanomodifers are used in this work. 1-methyl-imidazole. has met with mixed results. The research performed to date. 331 (DOW. Additionally they found that the nano-modified laminates had little effect upon the tensile fatigue performance. Some benefits of using nano-modifiers are highlighted. and indicating the need for careful selection of nanoclay concentration and surface modification. respec- 719 tively in quasi-isotropic laminates while cross-ply laminates produced smaller increases. USA) and the epoxy novolac resin under the trade name of D. These additives can self assemble through thermodynamic processes to form unique nanostructures within reactive epoxy matrices [10. The application of toughening polymer matrices to a fibre reinforced composite however. vapour grown carbon fibre (VGCF) and an organic triblock copolymer system. [13] reported a 12% improvement in modulus at 2 wt% of organosilicate for aerospace composite materials while reporting no improvement in other mechanical properties. R. It is of interest to note that for the abovementioned reasons the substantial improvements reported in the fibre dominated properties (i. The work by Haque and Shamsuzzoha [18] also reported large improvements in the ILSS and fracture toughness.5 phr of the accelerator. 27 phr of DEN431 resin. As well it was suggested that fully exfoliated nanocomposites would if fact possibly reduce fracture toughness. The triblock copolymer used was an acrylic block copolymer poly styrene butadi- . Scanning electron and optical microscopic techniques were used to provide an explanation for the results obtained.E. Timmerman et al. Quaresimin. While the constraining nature of fibre reinforcement can minimise the effectiveness of rubber additives in carbon fibre composites [12]. (2005) [19] to the affinity between the silicate organoclay and the silicate glass fibres and enhancing the fibre matrix adhesion. creates further complexities in optimising the performance of the resin dominated composite properties. Becker et al. This paper therefore seeks to further understand the effect of nano-modifiers similar to those discussed above on the properties of an epoxy anhydride carbon fibre laminate.J. However. arise from electrostatic attractive forces between the tubes causing them to exist in agglomerated bundles. (2003) [15] have shown that improvements in crack opening fracture toughness can be achieved at low levels of clay addition. A variety of methods. Difficulties in complete dispersion however.11] that promote unique toughening mechanisms arising from the unique morphologies.19]) of the order of 25% have been reported at low levels of addition. They are surface modified lamellae of montmorillonite 1 nm thick and with lateral dimensions from 70 to 150 nm according to the product data sheet supplied. They found that a 1 wt% addition of nanoparticles improved strength and modulus by 12% and 19%. while it is unlikely (and equally less important) that the in-plane fibre dominated properties would be able to be significantly improved. while also presenting and justifying some deleterious effects arising from specific difficulties in relation to processing the composite. 44 phr of the hardener XD5200 and 0. This was explained as being due to the formation of a crack bridging mechanism and the supplementary reinforcement provided by the clay. reviewed elsewhere [9] have been investigated. has yielded improved results compared to carbon. tensile and bending) are considered to warrant more research in this area. The vapour grown carbon nanofibers (VGCF) were obtained from Applied Sciences under the trade name of Pyrograf-III PR24-PS. Although the matrix was not epoxy based. The nanoclay used here was Cloisite 30B supplied by Southern Clay Products (USA). the effect upon viscosity and the tendency to micro-phase separate tends to inhibit the benefits of the nano-additive. aimed at translating resin properties to the fibre reinforced composite. Materials The polymeric matrix consisted of a blend of the diglycidyl ether of bisphenol A (DGEBA) under the trade name of D. It is important to note here that that comparatively weak out of plane inter-laminar properties have the greatest potential (and indeed need) for improvement. an AS-4/PEEK composite modified with SiO2 nanoparticles has been shown by Jen et al. 431 (DOW. Improvements in strength (compressive [17] and flexural [18. Other nano-additives that have shown significant improvement in improving the mechanical properties of epoxy resins. Experimental 2. with a specific surface area of 50–53 m2/g. The use of glass fibre as the reinforcement however. Varley / Composites Science and Technology 68 (2008) 718–726 promoted when intercalated tactoids or even agglomerates are present.USA). it is suggested here that alternative toughening mechanisms of nano-additives may overcome these limitations. The level of improvement has been attributed by Kornmann et al. All three systems were fabricated into carbon fibre reinforced composites and a range of mechanical properties were determined. are triblock copolymers.e. (2002) [14]. (2004) [16] to synergistically improve mechanical properties in unidirectional laminates. Carbon based nanotubes are another class of nano-additives which show significant potential provided they can be adequately dispersed within an epoxy matrix.

The reported GIC values were calculated using the compliance calibration method (MCC) and the initiation values were determined by visual observation. thickness 4 mm. care was taken to ensure that similar quantities of resin were applied to the fibre. In the case of the mode I and II samples. a [0]10 sequence was used for the compressive and tensile properties while a [0]6 sequence was used for the impact testing. the clay. In the case of the VGCF and triblock copolymer systems. 2. The VGCF was dispersed in the epoxy resin system according to an attrition milling process. Plain samples were cut in the size of 2 · 24 · 110 mm and tested with an unsupported length of 20 mm. [0]24 sequence was used. respectively. 12 · 4 · 30 mm. Tabs were applied to the specimens in order to improve the grip in the clamps. a solvent based process whereby the solution was applied to the carbon fibre using a paint brush.4 bars of pressure for a further 70 min.3. Mode I testing was carried out according to ASTM D5528. The triblock copolymer was formed by dissolving in acetone along with the epoxy resin formulation and then pre-pregged in a similar manner to the VGCF. The solvent was concentrated to a specific volume and then pre-pregged by applying a known quantity of resin onto the carbon fibre. The distance between the lower rolls was 100 mm and the initial crack . Mode II testing was determined using end notched flexure method (ENF) according to DIN EN6034. Holes were carefully drilled undersize and then reamed to final dimensions. hold at 80 C for 2 h and under vac- uum and 1. The prepreg was then cut out and fabricated according to the test being performed. supplied by Arkema. Compressive properties were investigated both on plain and notched samples to emphasise the matrix contribution.2. The crosshead speed was set at 1 mm/min and six specimens were tested for each material configuration. Steel hinges (25 · 50 mm) were applied to the specimens to ensure that the specimen is always vertically loaded. Varley / Composites Science and Technology 68 (2008) 718–726 ene methyl methacrylate (SBM). An auxiliary load cell of 1 kN was fitted to testing machine and the crack propagation was monitored visually with a travelling microscope. namely 4.5 wt% of VGCF and 10 wt% of SBM were prepared for evaluation and compared to an unmodified laminate. The unidirectional carbon fibers Tenax G30-700 12K HTA-7C by Toho-Tenax America Inc.5 bars. thickness 4 mm and length 130 mm.5 bars. Three specimens were tested under three point bending for each material configuration and the crosshead speed was set at 1 mm/min. Open hole compressive (OHC) properties were determined using samples of dimensions 2 · 36 · 300 mm with holes of different size. Specimen dimensions consisted of width 25 mm.4. 63 vol%.5 mm/min. the VGCF and the SBM modified resin were found to be 69 vol%. R. the following laminates containing 5 wt% of nanoclay. The crosshead speed used for all compressive samples was set at 2 mm/min and the test was repeated on at least three specimens for each material configuration. Three double cantilever beam (DCB) specimens for each material configuration were tested. The crosshead speed was set at 2 mm/min and three specimens were tested for each material configuration. to investigate also the notch size effect. To avoid sample buckling notched samples were fitted with an anti-buckling fixture according to ASTM D6484. The fibre volume fractions of the laminates prepared for the unmodified resin. length 75 mm. with the following dimensions: width 25 mm. In the case of the unmodified and the nanoclay modified resins. 2. The organoclay was dispersed through a shear mixing process where the epoxy resins were heated to 130 C and the clay added while mixing at a rate of 1000 rpm. In this work. The crosshead speed was set at 0. was used. Quaresimin. The VGCF was placed in a container along with milling balls and solvent and stirred at 1000 rpm for 1hr. 7. 65 vol% and 54 vol%.85F-14 extensometer was used for determination of tensile modulus. Mechanical properties Mechanical properties were evaluated using an MTS 809 axial/torsion test system with load cell of 10/100 kN. hold at 180 C at 5.5 bars for 2 h and finally cool down to room temperature overnight. This was continued for 1 h until the hardener was added and the resin was cooled to room temperature. Curing for all systems unmodified and nano-modified was performed using a vacuum bag configuration between a platen press and the cure profile was as follows: 30–80 C at 5 C/min under vacuum and 1. samples were machined to the following dimensions: 2 · 15 · 110 mm. An MTS 632. The concentrations for each additive were specifically chosen so as to have the greatest potential for exhibiting improvement in the laminate properties while minimising any deleterious consequences. The interlaminar shear strength (ILSS) was determined according to ASTM D2344 using samples of the following dimensions. After this time the balls were removed and the VGCF and solvent were added to the epoxy resin.720 M. 2. Nanocomposite formation The nano-additives were dispersed in the resin systems prior to application onto the unidirectional fibre as follows. 8 and 12 mm. heat from 80 to 180 C at 5 C/min with pressure at 5. a solventless melt process was used to apply the resin evenly. Sample Fabrication Prepregs were prepared according to a hand lay-up process at room temperature of around 22 C and ambient humidity. under the trade name of AF-X E20. release vacuum while increasing pressure to 5. A teflon film of thickness 5 lm was inserted as the crack starter for the mode I and II lay-up sequence.J. The solvent was allowed to evaporate overnight where the temperature varied from 22 C to 12 C and ambient humidity before fabrication was commenced.4 bars of additional pressure. In all cases. For the tensile testing measurements.

2. 3. This would be expected to impact the mechanical properties measured for this system. Mode II strain energy release rate. The reason for this is expected to be a result of the entrapment of residual solvent caused by the increase in 721 viscosity. Tensile Properties The effect of the different nano-additives upon the composite tensile moduli are shown in Fig. . 3. The characteristic layering of the plies is observed with each of the laminates which highlights a thin strip of a resin rich layer in between the carbon fibre tows. in the resin rich layer it can be seen that phase separation of the SBM has occurred producing particles of the order of a few microns in diameter. was calculated according to beam theory. The SBM system however. the reduction Fig. highlight a modest decrease in performance compared to the unmodified laminate for the range of nano-modified used here. The poor performance of the SBM system is clearly evident and can again be attributed to the extent of voids in the laminates prepared. In fact. 3. lower volume fraction and laminate quality induced the lowest strength value.3. It is worth noting here that the quality of the laminate of the SBM triblock system is clearly inferior to the other laminates with significant numbers of voids apparent. although the elastomeric nature of the additive may also be contributing to this large decrease. This suggests that in the case of the SBM nano-additve there has been little if any nanostructure formation. 3. (c) VGCF modified and (d) SBM modified laminates. GIIC. A strain gauge striker with a hemispherical head of diameter 12. 1. Again. In addition to this. Results and discussion 3.7 mm was used. Varley / Composites Science and Technology 68 (2008) 718–726 length 25 mm. Compressive properties The compressive properties determined here are shown in Fig. is seen to decrease significantly.1. The results of the tensile strength measurements shown in Fig. The impact test was carried out according to ASTM D5628 standard using a CEAST Fractovis Plus 7520 falling mass impact tester. Laminate morphology A selection of SEM micrographs are shown in Fig. Quaresimin. 4. for the SBM system. 1 at low magnification to highlight the laminate morphology produced in each of the laminates prepared. 2.J. Scanning electron micrographs at a magnification of ·200 showing the consolidation and layered morphology of the unidirectional laminates prepared for the (a) unmodified (b) nanoclay modified. in accord with the reduced fibre volume fraction and lower quality of the laminate. R. As can be seen there is little effect upon properties as would be expected given the fibre dominated nature of the test performed here.M.

When they used a VARTM methods however. and attributed this to the -500 -400 0.3 0.20 in strength for SBM laminates is far larger than that expected on the basis of the lower content of reinforcement.6 0. Furthermore. These results complement those of Subramaniyan and Sun (2006) [17. The results obtained from the SBM laminates are not presented due to the poor compressive values for the plain samples which makes the comparison unrealistic. has the potential to increase flexibility during the design of epoxy composites. 4. Compressive Strength (MPa) -800 -700 un-modified resin nano-clay SBM -600 VGCF the plain specimens against normalised hole diameter. R.05 0.1 VGCF 1 nanoclay 0. although in the presence of a significant scatter.2 0.60 -300 initiation 0. Quaresimin.30 0. .J. 5.15 0. Effect of nano-modifier addition upon the tensile modulus.2 un-modified resin 1. the results indicate a trend of relative improvement in strength for both the VGCF and nanoclay as the hole size increases.3 0.M.10 0. 6. Effect of nano-modifier addition on the normalised compressive strength as a function of the normalised notch size.8 0. 2.20] who observed maximum improvements in compressive strength to be of the order of 25% for a wet lay-up method similar to that used here. 2000 Tensile strength [MPa] 1800 1600 1400 1200 1000 800 600 400 200 0 unmodified resin organo-clay SBM VGCF Fig.7 0. GIC [kJ/m2] 0. Effect of nano-modifier addition upon the compressive strength for plain and notched laminates. It can be suggested therefore that the addition of both VGCF and nanoclay provide the laminate with an increased resistance to the presence of notches compared to the unmodified base laminates.00 un-modified organo-clay resin SBM VGCF Fig. Varley / Composites Science and Technology 68 (2008) 718–726 notched/plain compressive strength (MPa) 722 150000 Tensile modulus E [MPa] 140000 130000 120000 110000 100000 90000 80000 70000 1.50 -200 propagation -100 plain 4mm 8 mm 12mm Fig. they reported a decrease in compressive strength.40 0 0. The brittle nature of epoxy resins. Effect of nano-modifier addition upon the initiation and propagation mode I interlaminar fracture toughness (DCB).2 60000 0 un-modified organo-clay resin SBM VGCF Fig. 3.1 0. The reduction in notch sensitivity for nanoclay and VGCF modified systems therefore.25 diameter/width 0. 0. This result is highlighted further in Fig. 5 which plots the normalised strength compared to 0.9 0.5 0. Effect of nano-modifier addition upon the tensile strength.4 0.35 Fig. and their corresponding notch sensitivity is an inherent aspect of epoxy resin which is always taken into account during design.

8 Si 0.4. 3. consequences of the nanoclay being filtered during the process and therefore not being evenly dispersed. 7 shows that for both the VGCF and nanoclay systems. In addition.6 Fiber-rich region Counts GIIC [kJ/m2] Resin-rich region (interlayer) 1.5 2 2.2 0. Fig. 1 as well as the optical micrographs in Fig. 2. show that this resin rich region is actually a .M.5 1 1. 7. 8. illustrating the filtering effect of the carbon fibre tows preventing nanomodifer from penetrating the fibre rich regions for the (a) nanoclay (on the left) and (b) VGCF (on the right). all show large decreases in fracture tough- un-modified organo-clay resin SBM VGCF Fig. The poor performances particularly for the organo-clay and the VGCF can be explained by examining both the SEM images shown in Fig. Optical micrographs at two magnifications. ness. there is negligible infusion of nano-additives into the fibre rich regions. Fig. Effect of nano-modifier addition upon the mode II fracture toughness (ENF). Electrodispersive spectroscopic elemental analysis of the nanoclay composite quantifying the inhomogeneous dispersion of the layered silicate in the interlayer region and between the fibers. 7. particularly for the organo-clay and the VGCF additives. would also be improved. even though apparently well dispersed within the interlayer resin rich region.J. As a result the nano-additive is not evenly dispersed throughout the composite and effectively filtered out by the fibres. 9. Quaresimin. which shows the initiation and propagation GIC results. 1. 6.0 C 1.4 Al O 0. Varley / Composites Science and Technology 68 (2008) 718–726 723 Fig. the micrographs shown in Fig. Fracture properties Given the positive effect upon notch sensitivity of nanoclay and VGCF it was expected that the mode I crack opening strain energy release rate GIC.5 E [keV] Fig.0 0 0. R.

10. This complements the above discussion in that no filtering occurs for these samples and the SBM GIC is well above that of the VGCF and nanoclay.J. Fig. The result of this is that the concentration of the nano-additive is therefore much higher than the nominal 5 and 7. The actual extent to which a nanocomposite was formed either during the prepreg fabrication stage or after cure. Thus this result highlights that the observed improvements in properties. At such high concentrations the quality of the dispersion is compromised. Although the SBM GIC is poor. increasing the agglomeration and clustering in the resin rich regions such that the nano-modifier actually provides points of weakness rather than reinforcement. as determined for the different nano-modified laminates. respectively. Quaresimin. Again the poor performance of the SBM laminate can be attributed to the lower quality of the laminates. or in this case the deleterious effects that can arise when the additive is acting as a filler. A lack of any Si and Al between in the fibre rich region is a clear indication of the lack of any nanoclay present. it remains significantly higher than the VGCF and nanoclay systems. showing electro-dispersive spectroscopy analysis of the interlayer region and between the fibres. Varley / Composites Science and Technology 68 (2008) 718–726 60 ILSS [MPa] 50 40 30 20 10 0 un-modified organo-clay resin SBM VGCF Fig.724 M. failure through shear loading displayed improvements with the addition of VGCF and nanoclay compared to the unmodified laminates. . The results are Fig. R. was not specifically measured in this work. In contrast to the poor performance of the mode I crack opening behaviour.5 wt% of nanoclay and VGCF.22]. Interlaminar shear strength (ILSS). Comparison of the fracture surfaces at magnifications of ·1500 for the (a) unmodified laminate (b) VGCF modified laminate and (c) nanoclay laminates. relatively small fraction of the area of the composite compared to the fibre rich region. and thus decreasing toughness [21. 8 provides further evidence of this filtration of the nano-modifier from the fibre rich regions for the nanoclay system. 11.

An interesting aspect of this work therefore is the decoupling of the relationship between the tensile (mode I) failure and failure through shear processes. 4. This decrease in brittle behaviour evidenced by improvements in notched sensitivity. Substantial decreases in mode I crack opening behaviour were observed and were shown to be a result of the fibre tows preventing optimum dispersion of the modifier by filtration. The work has shown that tensile modulus exhibited little difference between the unmodified laminates while a modest decrease was observed for the tensile strength for the VGCF and nanoclay modified systems. The result being that the ‘‘effective’’ clay concentration in the interlayer resin rich regions was much higher than the nominal nano-additive concentration. the filtration effect that reduces the crack opening GIC has not had the same effect for the shear failure mode GIIC. the hackles are less well defined compared to the unmodified laminate and appear closer together or smaller. usually called hackles as can be seen from the SEM fracture surfaces shown in Fig. It is typically expected that if the toughness of a polymer composite is increased. were not however. This in turn had a deleterious effect upon mechanical properties.3 0. translated into improved GIC performance as may have been expected. the better performance of the VGCF is likely to be a result of their higher aspect ratio and the presence of more well dispersed fibres compared to the nanoclay.M. Reasonably similar trends in the mode II and ILSS results can be seen. . The observation that damage mainly occurred through splitting. In contrast however. It was suggested that high aspect ratio of the nano-additive helped to constrain the growth of the micro-cracks which in turn delayed failure. via ILSS and GIIC was also improved.J. In a brittle matrix. Again in both ILSS and absorbed to impact energy ratio 0. The notch sensitivity under compression was shown to be improved when nanoclay and VGCF was added. 3. improvements in both mode I and II deformations should be evident. 12. With the exception of the triblock SBM laminates.8 0. demonstrated significant improvements compared to the unmodified laminate. Conclusions In summary.4 0. 11b and c show scanning electron micrographs of the fracture surfaces of the VGCF and nanoclay modified systems at ·1500. Therefore the results of the impact testing in Fig.0 un-modified organo-clay resin SBM VGCF Fig. The fracture surface contains many ‘‘zipper’’ looking facets.7 0.6 0.5 0. the absorption capability of both the organoclay and the VGCF are above that of the unmodified laminate. R. Comparison of the absorbed to impact energy ratio for unmodified and nano-modified laminates prepared. these micro-cracks grow during loading and eventually coalesce and then fail catastrophically. properties dominated by the matrix contribution. can be related to the lower quality of the laminate prepared. Fig. This has lead us to suggest that improved shear performance may be related to ability of the high aspect ratio additives to effectively ‘‘anchor’’ the micro-cracks together. Mode II occurs via the development of a series of sigmoidal shaped matrix micro-cracks ahead of the crack tip with an orientation of approximately 45 to the fibre direction. 11a for the unmodified laminate at a magnification of ·1500. The higher void content was discussed in terms of the viscosity increase arising from the use of SBM and the corresponding entrapment of solvent. 12 are represented as the ratio of the absorbed to impact energy. Therefore. particularly for the VGCF modifier which was found to improve GIIC by over 100%. Quaresimin. The shear behaviour as evidenced. this paper has presented a short survey of the effect of three different nano-modifiers upon key mechanical properties of carbon fibre reinforced laminates.2 0. However here. confirms the primary contribution of the matrix to the increased performance. it was chosen to emphasise the contribution of the matrix in terms of energy absorption.5. the poor results obtained from the SBM laminates. 725 mode II failure. GIIC and ILSS. the similarity of the impact behaviour to the GIIC suggests it can be used as a representative parameter to describe the matrix contribution to impact performance. Although the [0]6 sequence is not ideal for impact design application. coalescence and thus laminate failure. although it is clear that the effect of VGCF addition is significantly higher than that of the nanoclay. 9 and 10 for the mode II ENF and interlaminar shear (ILSS). For both nano-modifiers. During the interlaminar shear tests all the specimens failed by delamination. As can be seen. (despite their effective higher concentration) by the VGCF fibres (in particular) delaying their growth. Impact The effect of nano-addition upon the energy absorption capability of the laminates under impact loading has been determined here. respectively. In addition. since in these cases the results are mainly matrix-controlled and the fibre content has less influence.1 0. The micrographs show clear evidence of modification of the mechanism by both of the nano-additives. respectively. good quality laminates were prepared. Varley / Composites Science and Technology 68 (2008) 718–726 shown in Figs.

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