Current HPMI research consists of the following six major program areas:

1. Carbon Nanotubes Enhanced High-Performance Multifunctional Composites

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have amazing electrical, mechanical, photonic and thermal properties. HPMI is working to effectively transfer these amazing properties into bulk composite materials using thin membranes made up of CNTs called buckypaper. HPMI is developing CNT buckypaper composite structures that are extremely strong, highly efficient in heat dissipation and can shield for electro-magnetic interference. The nanotubes in buckypapers can be randomly dispersed or aligned, based upon the specific properties desired. Buckypapers can be easily handled and incorporated into conventional and out-of-autoclave composite processing methods.

Related Research Projects:
  • Electromagnetic interference shielding
  • Functionalization of CNTs and CNTs sheet for metal-like high conductance
  • Extra-resilient high-performance CNT buckypaper and sheet composites
  • Lightweight thermal management composite using CNT and nanoparticles
  • Lightweight and low power consumption nanocomposite actuators and morphing structures
  • Nanoscale interfacial bonding and load transfer mechanism
  • Novel resin chemistry and compatibility for nanoscale reinforcements
  • Fire-smoke-toxicity (FST) retardant composites
  • Processing-structure-property relationship of polymer and polymer nanocomposites
  • Transparent polymer/CNT nanocomposites
  • Prediction of mechanical and electric conductivity properties of nanocomposites using multiscale modeling and simulation methods

2. Advanced Materials for Energy and Power

The use of fuel cells and supercapacitors is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years. New energy generation and storage devices must be made more efficient. Optimizing the micro-/nano-structure of the electrodes used in these devices will make a major stride in improving efficiency. HPMI researchers have discovered that the controllable nanostructure of CNT buckypaper is ideal for providing electro-catalyst support in fuel cells and supercapacitors to significantly improve energy and power efficiency.

Related Research Projects:

3. Sensing and Actuation

Structural health monitoring (SHM) is vital for constructed systems and infrastructure for applications involving aircraft, wind blades, bridges, etc. Unexpected failures can result in major devastation. HPMI is developing CNT-based sensors and actuators to offer SHM that can become an integral part of structures or functional devices. HPMI is working on developing mold-free, advanced manufacturing processes for composite materials and medical devices.

Related Research Projects:
  • Carbon nanotube thin film enabled sensing and opto-electronic materials
  • TriP intrinsic structural health monitoring
  • Nanofoam-based pressure sensors and actuators
  • Polymer/CNT nanocomposites for strain sensing
  • Buckypaper-based low power consuming actuators
  • Printed RFID circuits
  • Printed circuits on carbon fibers for structural health monitoring of composites
  • Sensor placement and damage classification methods for health monitoring of composite structures

4. Advanced Manufacturing and Out-of-Autoclave Processing for Composites and Nanocomposites

HPMI is developing and improving affordable manufacturing processes that provide rapid, custom-made composite fabrication capabilities. This research thrust focuses on out-of-autoclave manufacturing processes such as HPMIs home-grown Resin Infusion between Double Flexible Tooling (RIDFT) technology and high-temperature vacuum assisted resin transfer molding (VARTM) process.

Related Research Projects:
  • SOCAT: Socket Optimized for Comfort with Advanced Technologies
  • Low cost composite manufacturing with RIDFT
  • High temperature VARTM process development
  • 3D RTM/VARTM manufacturability simulator - RTMSim
  • Multiscale (polymer/fiber/nanoparticle) composite processing
  • Rapid fabrication of custom composite prosthetics devices
  • Displaced foam dispersion technique for multiscale composites

5. Emerging Processing Techniques for Advanced Materials

HPMI is exploring emerging processing techniques for composites and nanomaterials, such as developing and testing supercritical fluids (SCF) assisted process. SCF can be a cost effective tool for micro-/nano-structures control during materials processing.

Related Research Projects:
  • Multifunctional polymeric foams using supercritical carbon dioxide
  • Multifunctional nanomaterials and processes for infrastructure repair and corrosion inhibition
  • Synthesis of specialty carbon nanostructures
  • Assembly of carbon nanostructures
  • Laser treatment of buckypaper for LCD backlight applications
  • Toughening of ceramics using dual phase materials
  • Composite recycling using supercritical fluids

6. Quality and Manufacturing Engineering for Advanced Composites Materials

Manufacturing of advanced materials such as composites and nanomaterials often involves multiple constituent materials and complex processing steps. Raw materials impurities and processing parameters variations can result in inconsistent quality. HPMI is developing effective physical and statistical methods to predict and control resulting materials variations by integrating prior knowledge, experimental data and computer models.

Related Research Projects:
  • Variation analysis of composite and nanomaterials processes
  • Variation control of buckypaper fabrication process with multi-stage variation analysis
  • Prediction of mechanical properties and their variations of buckypaper/polymer composites with micromechanics and statistical methods
  • Uncertainty quantification of buckypaper polymer composites computer models
  • Principal components based fault detection and diagnosis for composite and nanomaterials manufacturing processes

Current and Recent Projects:

- Dimension Prediction and Control for RTM Process
- Dispersion and Alignment of Carbon Nanotubes Using Electric Fields
- Environmentally Conscious Process for Boat Building
- Fire, Smoke and Toxicity Retardant Composites
- Functionalization of SWNTs by Mechanically Chopping and Molecular Filling
- GRASP – Gas-Assisted Real-time Assessment of Permeability
- High-Temperature Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Molding
- Intelligent Control of Liquid Composite Molding Process
- Magnetically Aligning SWNTs for High Performance, Multifunctional Nanomaterials
- Molecular Dynamics Modeling and Simulation of Nanotube Reinforced Composites
- Nanotube/Carbon Fiber Multiscale Reinforcement for High Performance Composites
- NOLES – Nanotubes Optimized for Lightweight Exceptional Strength
- REDUCE – Rapid Early Development Unit Cost Estimation
- RIDFT – Resin Infusion between Double Flexible Tooling Process
- Rotating Compression Molding Process for Acoustically Attenuating Composites
- Strain Sensing, Polymer Matrix Nanocomposites
- Transparent, Impact Resistant Nanocomposites
- 3D RTM/VARTM Manufacturability Simulator - RTMSim