Fatigue resistance of ultra-high-modulus pitch-based carbon fiber/epoxy composites under tensile loading

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Pitch-based carbon fiber reinforced epoxy composites are used in specialized applications for their high-modulus and thermal conductivity; however, little data on their fatigue performance are available in the open literature. In this study, fatigue behaviors of ultra-high-modulus pitch-based carbon fiber and standard-modulus polyacrylonitrile (PAN)-based carbon fiber were compared in woven quasi-isotropic epoxy matrix composites subject to uniaxial tension. It was found that the pitch fiber composite possessed higher normalized tensile fatigue strength and that its stress-life (S-N) curve is less steep. Extrapolation suggests the pitch fiber composite is more fatigue-resistant in higher cycle regimes (specifically, N > 107). Cyclic loading of the pitch fiber composite resulted in minimal matrix damage, and the eventual fractures were localized and fiber-dominated for all stress levels. Cyclic loading of the PAN fiber composites resulted in widespread matrix cracking and delamination. The difference in fatigue behavior is attributed to the different strain levels attained at similar stress levels and the consequent difference in matrix damage development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-179
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Composite Materials
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry


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