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Enhanced strength in bulk graphene–copper composites



Graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs) exhibit ultra-high strength and elastic modulus. Therefore, they are potential ideal reinforcements in metal–matrix composites (MMCs). In this work, we report the use of GNPs to strengthen the bulk Cu-matrix composites. GNP reinforced Cu-matrix (GNP/Cu) composites were prepared by a combination of the ball milling and hot-pressing processing, and their mechanical properties were investigated. Microstructure studies indicated that the GNPs with 0–8 vol.% contents were well dispersed in the Cu matrix by ball milling. Compared to unreinforced Cu, the GNP/Cu composites showed a remarkable increase in yield strength and Young's modulus up to 114 and 37% at 8 vol.% GNP content, respectively. The extraordinary reinforcement is attributed to the homogeneous dispersion of GNPs and grain refinement. However, the mechanical improvement of GNP/Cu composites was still below the theoretical value. The possible reasons for this deviation were discussed and the methods for further mechanical improvement of GNP/Cu composites were proposed.