Colloquium: Dr. Pagona Papakonstantinou, Univ. of Ulster
Off Campus: via WEBEX
Lightweight Multifunctional Structural Composite
In recent years we have seen a gradual migration in airplanes, trains and cars from metallic to composite structures, (mainly Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymers, CFRP), driven by new requirements for cost efficiency and ecological policies for more environmentally friendly infrastructure by year 2050 (https://ec.europa.eu/transport/sites/transport/files/modes/air/doc/flightpath2050.pdf). A plausible solution to meet these ever increasing requirements is to render the composites multifunctional.
For example, in today's state of the art vehicles, functions such as energy storage, are provided by embedded components (e.g. batteries, supercapacitors), which add significant weight and volume to the vehicle. A nature inspired approach to tackle this challenge is one in which the desired functions are built into constituent structural materials (fibres and polymers) without parasitic parts, rendering the overall system multifunctional. If the body of a vehicle could be replaced with a multifunctional material that would serve simultaneously as both the vehicle structure (i.e. crash absorber or load carrying part) and an energy storage material, significant performance enhancements could be achieved. This multifunctional approach requires electrodes and/or electrolytes that do not only store electrochemical energy but also impart mechanical integrity.
In the talk, I will discuss our recent results [1-4] on multifunctional structural supercapacitors (SS), which are based on carbon fiber electrodes with radially aligned graphene nanoflakes directly grown on them. I will also emphasize the importance of interfacial nano-engineering on the design of next generation multifunctional fiber reinforced composites.