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Developing Raman Spectroscopy for the Nondestructive Testing of Carbon Fiber Composites

Carbon fiber composites are used in high-performance situations such as overwrapping for composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) in aerospace applications and hydrogen and natural gas transportation systems. There are currently limited NDT technologies to test these composite materials in situ. NDT technologies will be critical in the future for analyzing degradation caused by the environment that can reduce strength and service life of these materials. This paper focuses on initial Raman investigation of commercially available, high-performance carbon fiber and changes in the Raman response due to applied strain on the material. Variations in elastic strain in the composite material can manifest from degradation or damage, and can be analyzed using Raman spectroscopy. The characterization of active Raman bands and the strain sensitivity of these bands for commercially available carbon fibers are reported. These results indicate that Raman spectroscopy has some ability to make strain measurements in commercially available carbon fibers. Such measurements have the potential to be used as a tool for NDT in inspections and reliability assessments of carbon fiber composite materials by detecting fibers (or groups of fibers) that have shed load or acquired additional load due to damage or degradation, or degradation of the material itself.

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