Carbon fibers

Carbon fibers or carbon fibres (alternatively CF, graphite fiber or graphite fibre) are fibers about 5 to 10 micrometers (0.00020–0.00039 in) in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms.[1] Carbon fibers have several advantages: high stiffness, high tensile strength, high strength to weight ratio, high chemical resistance, high-temperature tolerance, and low thermal expansion.[2] These properties have made carbon fiber very popular in aerospace, civil engineering, military, motorsports, and other competition sports. However, they are relatively expensive compared to similar fibers, such as glass fiber, basalt fibers, or plastic fibers.[3]

Fabric made of woven carbon filaments

To produce a carbon fiber, the carbon atoms are bonded together in crystals that are more or less aligned parallel to the fiber's long axis as the crystal alignment gives the fiber a high strength-to-volume ratio (in other words, it is strong for its size). Several thousand carbon fibers are bundled together to form a tow, which may be used by itself or woven into a fabric.

Carbon fibers are usually combined with other materials to form a composite. For example, when permeated with a plastic resin and baked, it forms carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer (often referred to as carbon fiber), which has a very high strength-to-weight ratio and is extremely rigid although somewhat brittle. Carbon fibers are also composited with other materials, such as graphite, to form reinforced carbon-carbon composites, which have a very high heat tolerance.


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