Carbon-fiber-reinforced epoxies are frequently used for lightweight applications that require high mechanical properties. Still, there is potential regarding the improvement of the interlaminar-fracture toughness. As matrix toughening with nanoparticles is one possibility, in this study two different layered silicates are used to reinforce carbon fiber composites. The first type is a synthetical K-Hectorite (K-Hect) with outstanding lateral extension (6 µm) that has shown high toughening ability in resins in previous work. The other is a commercial montmorillonite (MMT) with a smaller size (400 nm). The aim of this study is to show the influence of the particles on mode I and mode II fracture toughness, especially the influence of particle size. Therefore, double-cantilever-beam tests and end-notched-flexure tests were carried out. Additionally, the fracture mechanisms were investigated via scanning electron microscopy (SEM). It is concluded, that the larger Hectorite particles are beneficial for mode I fracture behavior because of enhanced toughening mechanisms. One the other hand, the mode II energy dissipation rate is increased by the smaller montmorillonite particles due to sufficient interaction with the formation of hackling structures.
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