The National Institute of Standards and Technology has devised a method to embed a nanoscale damage-sensing probe into a lightweight epoxy and silk-based composite in a push to speed up the development of materials.
NIST said Friday the mechanophore probe was created using a dye called rhodamine spirolactam and works to help reduce the time and materials needed to develop and test new kinds of composites.
Researchers attached mechanophore to the silk fibers of an epoxy-based composite which caused the material to glow when force is applied, NIST added.
The installation of mechanophore also helped reveal damage at the composite’s interface through optical microscopy, the agency noted.
All composites have an interface where components meet and the strength of that interface affects composites’ capacity to resist damage.
NIST researchers plan to study the application of probes in other kinds of composites and use damage sensors to boost the capacity of composites to withstand extreme temperatures.
The study was funded through collaborative research agreements between NIST, the U.S. Air Force‘s office of scientific research and the U.S. Army‘s research office.