Carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) is commonly used in aviation, aerospace, automotive, and numerous modern industries due to the outstanding strength and lightweight properties resulting from the polymer binding matrix and reinforcement carbon fibers.
To evaluate the quality of the composites, the microstructures of the CFRP need to be analyzed, specifically, the overall carbon fiber architecture, such as the fiber orientation, fiber volume fraction, tortuosity, etc. Microstructural investigation shines a light on mechanical properties such as strength and elasticity, heat transformation throughout the materials, and possible defects inside the volume.
The composites are desired to maintain a high strength-to-weight ratio, high elasticity, and excellent thermal insulation. The carbon fibers are larger than normal, approximately 10 µm in diameter. Conventional GaFIB covers a volume of only 30 to 50 µm across while PFIB can go up to 200 or 300 µm; therefore, LaserPFIB is required to provide a statistically meaningful sampling volume up to 1 mm.
3D volume reconstruction and data analysis reveal the fiber morphology inside the composites. High-resolution images of the carbon fibers inside a composite’s volume are acquired with Thermo Scientific Helios 5 LaserPFIB process using automated serial sectioning and imaging process. Detailed properties such as fiber volume fraction, average fiber diameter, fiber orientation and tortuosity, and heat resistance are calculated and visualized using Thermo Scientific™ Avizo™ Software.