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Organization and Compaction of Composite Filler Material Using Acoustic Focusing

[+] Author Affiliations
Lauren A. Chai, Brian W. Anthony

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Paper No. IMECE2017-71952, pp. V002T02A074; 6 pages
  • ASME 2017 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 2: Advanced Manufacturing
  • Tampa, Florida, USA, November 3–9, 2017
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5835-6
  • Copyright © 2017 by ASME


Carbon nanofibers in polymer-based composites reduce the electrical resistivity of the composite but can be up to 100 times more expensive than the bulk polymer. This work uses acoustic focusing to organize and compact carbon nanofibers in a mineral oil mixture. The result is a decrease in the composite electrical resistivity without an increase in the global volume fraction of the fibers in the composite and associated material cost.

The composite consisted of Pyrograf PR-19-LHT carbon nanofibers mixed in light mineral oil at 1.6% volume fraction carbon nanofibers. The mixture was contained in a 1 cm × 1 cm × 4 cm glass cuvette. A PZT-4 piezoelectric transducer, epoxied to the external face of one of the sidewalls, generated the acoustic radiation forces in the container. A 1.179 MHz sinusoidal signal powered the transducer, producing a standing wave with 27 nodes and 13 antinodes in the container. A digital multimeter performed the 2-wire resistance measurement before, during and after focusing.

Settling of the filler due to gravity resulted in an initial drop in the electrical resistance. Once the mixture reached steady state, toggling the signal power off and on also toggled the approximate electrical resistance between the 19.2 MOhms and 11.5 MOhms respectively. This work also presents a simple volume fraction model, which predicted that the focused resistance would be 34% of the unfocused value. In the experiment, acoustic focusing reduced the electrical resistance to 60% of the resistance in the unfocused mixture, demonstrating acoustic focusing as a method for reducing electrical conductivity within a composite.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME



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