In situ temperature measurements during the production and use of composites
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State of the art
Composites combine several materials to obtain enhanced material properties. Structural fibre reinforced composites have, for example, a high strength and stiffness with a low weight due to a combination of fibres embedded in a polymer matrix. They are produced by mixing fibres with a polymer resin to produce so-called laminates. Their application field is wide: we all know bicycle frames, sailing yachts and the wind turbine blades. All these applications ask for a reliable composite. Their reliability depends also on the production temperature. Currently, the monitored temperature is a global parameter which is measured at the outside of the composites. A more reliable temperature measurement can be achieved by the use of thin film thermocouples, deposited on a laminate which plays the role of the substrate in the deposition set-up. Of course, as the laminate is a polymer based material, the deposition temperature must be low.
Magnetron sputter deposition is a technique which allows to deposit thin films at low temperatures. The film thickness can vary from a few nanometer up to 1 micrometer. The technique is used at large scale in the glass industry to deposit IR reflective multilayers for energy saving applications. However, the technique can also be used on laboratory scale. The technique is based on a magnetically assisted glow discharge. The ions formed in the plasma bombard the cathode and atoms are ejected. These sputtered atoms travel towards the substrate and condense as a thin film on the substrate. The application of sputter deposition in the field of composites is limited, and research is needed to investigate the feasibility of this technique. Indeed, it is necessary to prove that the deposition of the thermocouple does not influence the properties of the composite. In this way, the research fits in one of the new trends: self-sensing composites. These are composites with embedded sensors which allows to monitor the properties of the composite in a continuous way without influencing the composite itself.
The goal of the thesis is to deposit thin film thermocouples by magnetron sputtering. The influence of the deposition parameters on the properties of the thermocouples and their adhesion to the laminates will be investigated. Of course, the application of these thermocouples during the production of the composite will be tested. Depending of the outcome of the initial research a more advanced study on the temperature changes during the use of the composite material can be included.
We look for an enthusiastic student who likes experimental research. Interest in research on new applications is an assets. Your thesis investigates not only fundamental research questions related to material properties, but will also challenge your engineering skills by the use and the modification of advanced experimental set-ups. In return for your efforts we give you besides a desk, a good support and a nice environment to work together with several researchers.