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Investigation of New Method to Achieve Well Dispersed Multiwall Carbon Nanotubes Reinforced Al Matrix Composites

Authors: A.H.Javadi, Sh.Mirdamadi, M.A.Faghisani, S.Shakhesi


Nanostructured materials have attracted many researchers due to their outstanding mechanical and physical properties. For example, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) or carbon nanofibres (CNFs) are considered to be attractive reinforcement materials for light weight and high strength metal matrix composites. These composites are being projected for use in structural applications for their high specific strength as well as functional materials for their exciting thermal and electrical characteristics. The critical issues of CNT-reinforced MMCs include processing techniques, nanotube dispersion, interface, strengthening mechanisms and mechanical properties. One of the major obstacles to the effective use of carbon nanotubes as reinforcements in metal matrix composites is their agglomeration and poor distribution/dispersion within the metallic matrix. In order to tap into the advantages of the properties of CNTs (or CNFs) in composites, the high dispersion of CNTs (or CNFs) and strong interfacial bonding are the key issues which are still challenging. Processing techniques used for synthesis of the composites have been studied with an objective to achieve homogeneous distribution of carbon nanotubes in the matrix. Modified mechanical alloying (ball milling) techniques have emerged as promising routes for the fabrication of carbon nanotube (CNT) reinforced metal matrix composites. In order to obtain a homogeneous product, good control of the milling process, in particular control of the ball movement, is essential. The control of the ball motion during the milling leads to a reduction in grinding energy and a more homogeneous product. Also, the critical inner diameter of the milling container at a particular rotational speed can be calculated. In the present work, we use conventional and modified mechanical alloying to generate a homogenous distribution of 2 wt. % CNT within Al powders. 99% purity Aluminium powder (Acros, 200mesh) was used along with two different types of multiwall carbon nanotube (MWCNTs) having different aspect ratios to produce Al-CNT composites. The composite powders were processed into bulk material by compaction, and sintering using a cylindrical compaction and tube furnace. Field Emission Scanning electron microscopy (FESEM), X-Ray diffraction (XRD), Raman spectroscopy and Vickers macro hardness tester were used to evaluate CNT dispersion, powder morphology, CNT damage, phase analysis, mechanical properties and crystal size determination. Despite the success of ball milling in dispersing CNTs in Al powder, it is often accompanied with considerable strain hardening of the Al powder, which may have implications on the final properties of the composite. The results show that particle size and morphology vary with milling time. Also, by using the mixing process and sonication before mechanical alloying and modified ball mill, dispersion of the CNTs in Al matrix improves.

Keywords: multiwall carbon nanotube, Aluminum matrixcomposite, dispersion, mechanical alloying, sintering

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