Purdue University Graduate School
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Intrinsic Self-Sensing of Pulsed Laser Ablation in Carbon Nanofiber-Modified Glass Fiber/Epoxy Laminates

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posted on 2021-04-30, 01:18 authored by Rajan Nitish JainRajan Nitish Jain
Laser-to-composite interactions are becoming increasingly common in diverse applications such as diagnostics, fabrication and machining, and weapons systems. Lasers are capable of not only performing non-contact diagnostics, but also inducing seemingly imperceptible structural damage to materials. In safety-critical venues like aerospace, automotive, and civil infrastructure where composites are playing an increasingly prominent role, it is desirable to have means of sensing laser exposure on a composite material. Self-sensing materials may be a powerful method of addressing this need. Herein, we present an exploratory study on the potential of using changes in electrical measurements as a way of detecting laser exposure to a carbon nanofiber (CNF)-modified glass fiber/epoxy laminate. CNFs were dispersed in liquid epoxy resin prior to laminate fabrication via hand layup. The dispersed CNFs form a three-dimensional conductive network which allows for electrical measurements to be taken from the traditionally insulating glass fiber/epoxy material system. It is expected that damage to the network will disrupt the electrical pathways, thereby causing the material to exhibit slightly higher resistance. To test laser sensing capabilities, a resistance baseline of the CNF-modified glass fiber/epoxy specimens was first established before laser exposure. These specimens were then exposed to an infra-red laser operating at 1064 nm, 35 kHz, and pulse duration of 8 ns. The specimens were irradiated for a total of 20 seconds (4 exposures each at 5 seconds). The resistances of the specimens were then measured again post-ablation. In this study, it was found that for 1.0 wt.% CNF by weight the average resistance increased by about 18 percent. However, this values varied for specimens with different weight fractions. This established that the laser was indeed causing damage to the specimen sufficient to evoke a change in electrical properties. In order to expand on this result, electrical impedance tomography (EIT) was employed for localization of laser exposures of 1, 3, and 5 seconds on a larger specimen, a 3.25” square plate. EIT was used to measure the changes in conductivity after each exposure. EIT was not only successful in detecting damage that was virtually imperceptible to the human-eye, but it also accurately localized the exposure sites. The post-ablation conductivity of the exposure sites decreased in a manner that was comparable to the resistance increase obtained during prior testing. Based on this preliminary study, this research could lead to the development of a real-time exposure detection and tracking system for the measurement, fabrication, and defense industries.


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Aeronautics and Astronautics

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Tyler N. Tallman

Additional Committee Member 2

R. Byron Pipes

Additional Committee Member 3

Weinong W. Chen