Wanakamol, P. , Boonyaratgalin, W. , Supanam, N.
Composites based on silica and glass fibers conventionally contain fibers with dimension in the range of a few micrometers to millimeters. Electrospinning technique allows fabrication of fibers in the submicron length scale. With smaller dimension, these fibers when applied as reinforcement in composites may yield interesting composite properties. In this paper, silica fibers fabricated via electrospinning were utilized as reinforcement in polypropylene-matrixed composites. The silica precursor was prepared by sol-gel reaction of tetraethyl orthosilicate, ethyl alcohol, de-ionized water and hydrochloric acid. Viscous silica precursor was made into fibers by electrospinning with electric field of 1 kV/cm. Electrospun non-woven fiber mats were stabilized at 200°C and calcined at 800°C to remove remaining organic residues. The fiber diameter average was 279±40 nm. In the process of making composites, the silica fiber mats were sandwiched between polypropylene sheets, and the layers were compression-molded together. The composite samples with varied silica fiber contents up to 2 wt% were mechanically tested. Tensile tests demonstrate slight increases in tensile modulus, tensile strength with increasing silica fiber content. However, silica fiber content within the experimental range does not have prominent effects on yield strength and strain at break. © 2017 Trans Tech Publications, Switzerland.