Graphene nanoplatelet (GNP) modified epoxy nanocomposites are becoming attractive to aerospace due to possible improvements in their mechanical, electrical and thermal properties at no weight cost. The process of obtaining reliable material systems provides many challenges, especially at larger scale (a volume effect). This paper reports on the main fabrication stages of GNP-based epoxy composites, namely (i) pre-dispersion, (ii) dispersion, and (iii) post-dispersion. Each stage is developed to show the interest and potential it delivers for property enhancement. Chemical modification of GNP is presented; functionalisation by Triton X-100 shows elastic modulus improvements of the epoxy at low particle content (≤3%). The post-dispersion step as an alignment of GNP into the epoxy by an electrical field is discussed. The electrical conductivity is below the simulated percolation threshold and an improvement of the thermal diffusivity of 220% when compared to non-oriented GNP epoxy sample is achieved. The work demonstrates how the addition of functionalised graphene platelets to an epoxy resin will allow it to act as electrical and thermal conductor rather than as insulator.
- Electrical conductivity
- Thermal conductivity