IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE - The information on this site is subject to a disclaimer and a copyright notice.
European Flag

   Europa The European Commission Research Fifth Framework ProgrammeGrowth Thematic Networks


Thematic NetworksContents



Interphase characterisation and study of structure-property relations of fibre-reinforced polymers - INTERPHASE

Network overview

    The aim of this thematic network is to facilitate exchange, integration and creation of know-how through partner co-operation on industrially relevant research for the development of new light weight composite materials in order to contribute to a competitive "car of tomorrow" based on ongoing research in the co-operating industries, universities and research centres.

    The technical objective of this proposal is to develop new and rational means of characterising "interphases" of polymer matrix and reinforcing fibres in real composites of various fibre architectures and matrix properties. The goal is to find structure-property relations which can be used to produce tailor-made composite materials. The deliverables will be proper bases for improvement of composite properties caused by better fibre-matrix interaction. Thus, there is a strong need of the automotive industry for low cost composites having higher mechanical performances.

    Various micromechanical (fibre fragmentation, pull-out, microindentation, microdebond) and macromechanical (tensile, bending, shear, impact, dynamic loading) test methods are used to determine "characteristics" of fibre-matrix interaction.

    The comprehensive experimental investigations will provide input to computational mechanics activities aimed at modeling failure mechanisms and interpreting causes of, and driving forces for, fibre-matrix interaction.

    The co-operation proposed includes research groups dealing with micro- and macro-mechanical test methods with the aim of developing rational ways of characterising the structure-property relations of defined polymer composite systems and therefore improving the composite properties.

    The network objective is to establish a critical mass of European research scientists and engineers with the necessary balance of knowledge and skills in analytical, numerical and experimental mechanics of composite materials in order to access the world-wide technical base in this field. The network has also the ambition to develop a virtual laboratory team capable of meeting scientific objectives based on industrial demands of polymer reinforcement from composite manufacturers and end-users which have been up to now beyond the individual capabilities of research groups.

European dimension and partnership

    The transnational nature of the proposed project is due to its complexity. Seven leading groups in this field of research will work together with five teams of large European companies. The participation of the Israeli partner is proposed because of its merits in the field of interphase modelling and characterisation.

    This project will produce guidelines on how to tailor the interphase with respect to the requested mechanical performance. The project is clearly of precompetitive nature. It means that the results may be of great importance for fibre and resin manufacturers, compounders and last but not least end-users of composites. The main goal of material development is a better cost/performance ratio, with particular reference to automative applications.

    The results of this programme will be utilized in different ways. Partners will check how far the results achieved on selected fibre/matrix combinations can be generalised and will elaborate guidelines for property tailoring of composites. In addition, round-robin tests on the assessment of interfacial effects will trigger concentrated actions for standardisation of various testing methods.

    About half of the partners are from academia. Their research work is described in the network tasks and includes characterisation, modelling and scaling up. The main role of the industrial partners involved is to screen and control activities from the industrial needs point of view. Industrial partners will provide also well-characterised reinforcing fibres and polymeric matrices for composite applications, as well as expertise in macroscopic testing of end-use applications. This strong link between industry and academia will contribute to a successful R&D work on the interfacial control of the mechanical performance of polymeric composites.

Potential applications

    Composite materials are made of polymers (non-polar or functionalized) and compatibly sized or surface-treated reinforcing fibres. Reliable control of the degree of adhesion between the fibre and the matrix is required if a composite is to be used as a structural material. Optimization and tailoring of the fibre/matrix interfacial properties are possible provided that reliable quantitative methods for the measurement of interfacial properties are available, and that the mechanisms of interfacial adhesion are properly understood.

    The research groups involved will co-operate to fulfill the needs of industry. This should resolve currently unanswered contradictions concerning the strength of interfaces as compared to the strength of bulk matrix. The aim is to bridge the currently unfilled gap between mechanical measurements of interface adhesion performed with model laboratory-scale microcomposites and macroscopic tests that are simpler to perform but do not explain the mechanisms of adhesion and interaction influenced by fibre surface treatment, wetting, interphase, curing and/or consolidation cycle. This research activity could lead to new standardized methods of fibre-polymer adhesion measurement procedures and to the development of better tailored interfaces and to more reliable and safer composites.

Contract Brite-Euram Nr: BRRT-CT97-5004

    EC Contribution

      480 000 ECU

    Starting Date

      1 April 1997

    Closing Date

      31 March 2001


      48 months

    EC scientific officer

      Salvador CERVERA MARCH
      Fax: +32-2-296 05 50


      Research Centres Institut für Polymerforschung Dresden Physikalische
      Hohe Strasse 6
      01069 Dresden
      Edith Mäder
      Tel.: +49-35-14 65 83 05
      Fax: +49-35-14 65 82 84


    Industries Akzo Nobel Central Research BV - Arnhem (NL)
    Industries Borealis Holding A/S - Lyngby (DK)
    Research Centres Institut für Verbundwerkstoffe GmbH - Kaiserslautern (DE)
    Universities Katholieke Universiteit Leuven - Heverlee (BE)
    Industries Saab Ericsson Space AB - Göteborg (SE)
    Industries Saint-Gobain Recherche SA - Aubervilliers (FR)
    Industries Shell International Oil Products BV - Amsterdam (NL)
    Universities Technische Universität Hamburg-Harburg - Hamburg (DE)
    Universities University of Manchester- Institute of Science and Technology - Manchester (GB)
    Universities University of Sheffield - Sheffield (GB)
    Universities Weizmann Institute of Science - National Council for Research and Development - Rehovot (IL)

  Search Top