Increasing the mechanical performance, e.g. strength, toughness and fatigue properties of composites is the objective of many ongoing research projects. Nanoparticles, e.g. carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and fumed silica provide a high potential for the reinforcement of polymers. Their size in the nanometre regime make them suitable candidates for the reinforcement of fibre reinforced polymers, as they may penetrate the reinforcing fibre-network without disturbing the fibre-arrangement.
In this work, glass fibre-reinforced epoxy composites with nanoparticle modified matrix systems were produced and investigated. GFRPs containing different volume fractions of the nanofillers were produced via resin transfer moulding. Matrix dominated mechanical properties of the GFRP laminates could be improved by the incorporation of nanoparticles. The addition of only 0.3 wt.% CNTs to the epoxy matrix increased the interlaminar shear strength from 33.4 to 38.7 MPa (+16%). Furthermore, the application of electrically conductive nanoparticles enables the production of conductive nanocomposites. This offers a high potential for antistatic applications and the implementation of functional properties in the composite structures. The effects of different filler types and volume fractions on the electrical properties of the GFRPs were investigated. GFRPs containing 0.3 wt.% of CNTs, for example, exhibit an anisotropic electrical conductivity. Furthermore, an electrical field was applied to the composites during curing. The effects on the resulting electrical and mechanical properties are discussed.