Carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) composites are used in a variety of applications such as aircraft, automobiles, body armors, and the sports sector owing to their ultra-strong and lightweight characteristics. However, the incorporation of an untreated pristine carbon fiber surface leads to a weak interfacial interaction with the polymeric matrix, thus triggering catastrophic failure of the composite material. Graphene oxide, a 2D-macromolecule consisting of several polar functional groups such as hydroxyl, carboxyl, and carbonyl on the basal planes and edges, tends to increase the surface area and has thus been applied between the fiber and matrix, helping to improve CFRP properties. Herein, we condense different routes of functionalization of GO nanosheets and their incorporation onto a fiber surface or in a carbon fiber-reinforced epoxy matrix, helping to improve the interfacial adhesion between the fiber and matrix, and thus allowing effective stress transfer and energy absorption. The improvement of the interfacial adhesion between the fiber and carbon fiber-reinforced epoxy matrix is due to the peculiar structure of GO nanoparticles composed of polar groups, especially on the edges of the nanosheets, able to provide strong interaction with the hosting cured epoxy matrix, and the “core” part similar to the structure of CFs, and hence able to establish strong π-π interactions with the reinforcing CFs. The article also covers the effect of functionalized graphene oxide incorporation on the mechanical, thermal, electrical, and viscoelastic properties of composite materials reinforced with carbon fibers.
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