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GCSE Chemistry Notes: The properties and uses of carbon fibres

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Part 8 CARBON FIBRES - structure, properties and uses

Doc Brown's Chemistry Revision Notes - Smart Materials and Materials Science

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Index of nanochemistry revision notes

A general survey of materials - natural & synthetic, properties & uses

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Alphabetical list of keywords mentioned on these 'smart materials' pages: Carbon fibres * Chromogenic materials * Electrochromic materials * Gore-Tex * Halochromic materials  * High performance polymers * Kevlar * Lycra * Magnetic shape memory alloys * Magnetostrictive materials * Nitinol * pH sensitive polymers * Photochromic materials * Photomechancal materials * Piezoelectric effect materials * PTFE * Self-healing materials * Shape memory alloys * Shape memory polymers * Spandex * Teflon * Temperature responsive polymers * Thermochromic materials * Thinsulate


Part 8. CARBON FIBRES

  • Carbon, in the form of its allotrope graphite, is soft, slippery and easily broken solid.

  • However, very thin filaments or strands of graphite-carbon (carbon fibres) are very stiff and strong.

  • Precursor fibres of the polymer polyacrylonitrile are carbonised under extreme heat is one method of making carbon fibres - the process produces long chains of carbon atoms bonded together.

  • Carbon fibres are useful for reinforcing other materials to make them tougher i.e. strengthening composite materials.

  • Carbon fibres can be incorporated into strong plastics to make an even stronger composite material.

  • Carbon fibre materials are not only strong but very lightweight e.g. compared to strong metal alloys like steel.

  • So carbon fibre composites are used for skateboards, boat hulls and high performance sports equipment like tennis racket frames.

  • However, these high performance materials products don't come cheaply, you may pay 7000 for a mountain bike, made from carbon fibres and titanium, that weighs just 6 kg (quote from BBC News website in 2006).

 See also carbon nanotubes in nanochemistry, and the revision notes on ..

... covalent Bonding - covalent structures including diamond, graphite plus fullerenes, nanotubes


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INDEX of SMART MATERIALS PAGES

PART 1 CHROMOGENIC MATERIALS - Thermochromic, Photochromic & Electrochromic Materials

PART 2 SHAPE MEMORY ALLOYS e.g. Nitinol & Magnetic Shape Memory Alloys

PART 3 SHAPE MEMORY POLYMERS, pH and temperature sensitive-responsive polymers, self-healing materials

Part 4 LYCRA-SPANDEX

PART 5 High performance polymers like KEVLAR

PART 6 GORETEX, THINSULATE and TEFLON-PTFE

PART 7 PIEZOELECTRIC EFFECT (PIEZOELECTRIC MATERIALS) and PHOTOMECHANICAL MATERIALS

PART 8 CARBON FIBRES

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