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Analysis of the turbostratic structures in PAN-based carbon fibers with wide-angle x-ray diffraction...

by Cole Love Baker, Timothy Harrell, Frederic Vautard, James W Klett, Xiaodong Li
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Carbon fiber (CF) is a versatile material renowned for its excellent mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties. Polyacrylonitrile (PAN)-based CFs dominate the market in part due to their high tensile strength, rendering them suitable for structural applications in a wide variety of applications ranging from sporting goods to aerospace. Over five decades of commercial development of PAN-based CF has resulted in a range of varieties with different tensile moduli and tensile strengths. The microstructures, nanostructures, and crystal structures of PAN-based CF all play pivotal roles in the macroscale properties of this material. In particular, the crystal structure and crystallite orientation in CF is closely related to the mechanical properties. The crystal structure of PAN-based CF generally consists of turbostratic carbon, a disordered form of graphite, the characteristics of which can be effectively characterized in a bulk format through wide-angle x-ray diffraction (WAXD). In this work, we employed a three-part approach to the analysis of WAXD patterns collected from four intermediate modulus PAN-based CFs. The approach incorporates a Scherrer analysis, a Debye analysis, and an orientational analysis to provide precise estimates of crystallite sizes, crystallite distributions, and crystallite orientations with the fiber axis. The results presented here suggest that intermediate modulus PAN-based CF mostly consists of small turbostratic crystallites (<4 nm), with larger crystallites having increased orientation with the fiber axis. The results here imply the presence of curvature and/or wrinkling of the turbostratic layers within the CF structure.