Strong and Tough: A New Process for the Manufacture of High-Performance Fibers




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RWTH researchers contribute to the development of a new spinning and treatment process for the manufacture of high-performance fibers.


Researchers from RWTH Aachen University, Forschungszentrum Jülich, the University of Bayreuth, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS, Jiangxi Normal University, and ETH Zurich have achieved a breakthrough in the fabrication of synthetic high-performance fibers.

The interdisciplinary research team succeeded in manufacturing fibers with higher strength and toughness than presently existing fibers: In a special spinning and treatment process, the yarn is annealed under tension to align the small fibers and cross-link them. In future, the underlying principle of this process can be used to create similar strong and tough fibers from other commodity polymers.The results have now been published in the prestigious academic journal Science.

Today, the manufacture of high-performance polymer fibers that have outstanding mechanical properties poses a great challenge. Low toughness leads to wear, decreases lifetime and represents a weakness in the material properties, which prevents their use in a broad field of applications. So far only spider silk as a material optimized by nature fulfills both requirements for high strength and toughness.

The new fabrication process has been demonstrated for a commercial fiber material, PAN, and can be applied to a broad range of synthetic fiber materials. This opens new opportunities for a broad spectrum of future applications in the area of energy materials, for light-weight construction and automotive materials, in the aerospace industry as well as for sports, outdoor and high-tech-textile applications.


X. Liao, M. Dulle, J. M. de Souza e Silva, R. B. Wehrspohn, S. Agarwal, S. Förster, H. Hou, P. Smith, A. Greiner, High strength in combination with high toughness in robust and sustainable polymeric materials
Science (13 Dec 2019), DOI: 10.1126/science.aay9033