The module descriptors for this programme can be found below.

Composites 1

Module aims

Introduction to Composites

To provide an overview of the science, technology and application of composite materials.

Fibres

  • To introduce the classification of fibres used as reinforcement in composites: natural an artificial fibres, metallic, polymeric, carbon, glass and ceramic fibres. 
  • To explain the distribution of strengths of fibres and introduce the concept of fibre bundle.  
  • To introduce the concept of fibre flexibility 
  • To present the processing, structure and properties of commonly available fibres.  
  • To consider the production of selected particulate and whisker reinforcements and the relative merits of different forms of reinforcement.  
  • To present the importance of control of the matrix-reinforcement interface 

Interfaces

  • To establish the basic principles of the theories of wetting and adhesion of materials. (This part of the course will also be relevant for the “Joining of Composites” lectures later in the course.)  
  • To show how the intrinsic interactions across the fibre/matrix interface may be modified. To show why such modifications are undertaken in industry.   
  • To show how the “strength” of the fibre/matrix interface can be measured and related to the nature of the interfacial interactions.  
  • To examine the effect that the nature of the fibre/matrix interface has upon the presence of the fibre/composite material.  

Ceramic/Metal/Polymer Matrix

• To introduce the development of ceramic matrix composites (CMCs)  
• To present the different polycrystalline ceramic and silicate glass matrix available for CMCs 
• To consider relevant process technologies for reliable production of CMCs  
• To enhance understanding of the structure and mechanical properties of CMCs by considering particle and fibre reinforced composites, toughening mechanisms, failure behaviour and high-temperature behaviour, including thermal shock.  
• To illustrate application of ceramic matrix composite materials with selected examples of commercially available composites.  
• To address limitations of available CMCs

• To introduce the variety and typical applications of metal matrix composites (MMCs) 
• To deliver an overview of MMC technologies; benefits and limitations, 
• To consider processing methods for different MMCs and factors affecting their manufacture. 
• To review typical behaviours and failure modes of the main MMC classes. 

• To introduce polymer-basics: chemistry, physics, classification, structure, molecular weight (distribution). 
• To present the difference between: a) chain growth & step growth polymerisation, b) amorphous & semi-crystalline polymers, c) thermoplasts & cross-linked polymers. 
• To present polymer properties: thermal (melting temperature, glass transition temperature), crystallinity: dependency on structure. 
• To illustrate mechanical properties: stress-strain behaviour, Young`s modulus. 
• To introduce viscoelasticity: models, time-temperature-superposition. 
• To address an example of polymer-matrix-composite

Learning outcomes

Introduction to Composites

  • Be acquainted with basic definitions
  • Know about the common fibres and matrices and their typical mechanical and other properties.
  • Be familiar with the range of composite architectures
  • Be familiar with the range of processing methods for FRP and typical applications.
  • Understand the mechanism of fibre strengthening and the influence of defects.
  • Understand the key research issues and future areas of investigation. 

Fibres

On completion of this course the student should: 

  • have complete information of the different reinforcements available for use in all types of composites
  • have a quantitative understanding of the strength of isolated fibres and fibres within a matrix, 
  • understand the parameters affecting fibre flexibility
  • have an appreciation of the advantages and disadvantages of commonly available fibres and of the different forms of reinforcement and their applications in composite technology 

Interfaces

At the end of the course, students should be able to:  

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the following terms by using them appropriately in discussion and application of interface science and technology to the area of composite materials:  wetting; contact angle; adhesion mechanisms; surface treatments; coupling agents; environmental effects; thermodynamic work of adhesion; interfacial shear strength; transverse tensile strength; compression tests; single-fibre pull-out tests; single fibre-fragmentation tests; impact behaviour; fracture energies; toughening mechanisms  
  • Explain why the surface treatment of reinforcing fibres is typically undertaken in the industry.  
  • Suggest typical surface treatment procedures for different types of fibres.  
  • Have a sound understanding of how the strength of the fibre/matrix interface may be assessed.  
  • Have a sound understanding of the relationships between the adhesion at the fibre/marix interface, the measured strength of the fibre/matrix interface and the properties of the composite material.  

Ceramic/Metal/Polymer Matrix

On completion of this course the student should:  
•   demonstrate an understanding of different manufacturing methods and be able to suggest suitable processes for possible products 
•   have an overview of the main benefits of MMCs and also typical problems with their use. 
• have a complete overview of the fabrication methods available for ceramic composites  
• be able to differentiate different matrices according to their key properties, and relative advantages and disadvantages 
• be able to compare and contrast the various methods for producing CMCs  
• be able to demonstrate an understanding of the mechanical properties of ceramic composites, in particular the micromechanisims responsible for toughness and thermal shock resistance  
• have an appreciation of some of the CMCs currently available and be able to select an appropriate material for a given application. 
• have an overview over polymer chemistry, structures and classification. 
• be able to differentiate different types of polymers. 
• be able to demonstrate an understanding of the thermal and mechanical properties of polymer matrices dependent on their structures, as well as of viscoelasticity. 

Module syllabus

Introduction to Composites

Definitions, typical reinforcements and matrices.  Properties of typical composites (PMC, MMC, CMC); mechanical, weight, chemical, etc, of standard materials. Mechanism of fibre strengthening; QA and outline of manufacturing methods; influence on properties. Economic issues. Typical defects and methods of detection. Applications and mechanical performance.

Fibres

Manufacturing methods. Physical and chemical characteristics. Mechanical and other properties of commonly used fibres - carbon, glass, aramid and other organics, ceramics. Determination of fibre flexibility. Fibre coating to achieve compatibility with matrix. Use of statistical methods to characterise fibre behaviour. Naturally-occurring (cellulose) fibres. Whiskers; typical properties, manufacturing methods. 

Interfaces

Theories of adhesion; absorption and wetting, interdiffusion, electrostatic, chemical, mechanical. Measurement of interface strength. Characterisation of particular systems; carbon fibre/epoxy, glass fibre/polyester, etc. Influence of interface on mechanical properties of composite. 

Teaching methods

Introduction to Composites

The course is presented using a combination of the whiteboard, Powerpoint presentation and pre-printed slides.

Fibres

Printed handouts of the slides used in the lectures are given out. The course comprises 5 lectures (see below). There are no scheduled tutorials for this course. 

  • Classification of reinforcements for composites and basic fibre properties 
  • Organic fibres 
  • Inorganic fibres: glass and ceramic fibres 
  • Inorganic fibres: metallic fibres 
  • Carbon fibres and carbon nanotubes 

Interfaces

The course is presented using a combination of the whiteboard, Powerpoint presentation and pre-printed notes. 

Ceramic/Metal/Polymer Matrix

Printed handouts of the slides used in the lectures are given out. The course comprises 6 lectures for each topic (see above). There are no scheduled tutorials for this course.

Assessments

All elements are assessed by written examination. The examinations take place at the start of the summer term. There is 1 question in Paper 1 on each lecture topic  

Reading list

Supplementary

Supplementary

Core

Supplementary

Core

Supplementary