Dr. Athanasios Baltopoulos is a Mechanical Engineer specialized in the development and applications of nano-reinforced polymer composites materials. He hold a PhD in the field of Multifunctional Composite Structures with Damage Sensing Capabilities. From 2007 till 2013, he worked at the Applied Mechanics Laboratory of the University of Patras as a composites research engineer under a PhD curriculum dealing with various issues of composite structures related to design, processing, manufacturing, testing and non-destructive methods. Between 2010-2011, he worked as a materials engineer in the Materials Technology Section of the European Space Agency Technology Center (ESA/ESTEC). Since 2013 he serves as technical project manager for Adamant Composites. Throughout these years he has been involved in various ESA studies related to materials development utilizing nanotechnology; NANO1-2, NEFELI, NESTOR, NAFO and others. He is (co-) author of 6 refereed scientific papers on nano-composites applications and of 1 chapter books related to multifunctional materials
The incorporation of micro- and nano-sized materials in polymers to improve material performance has been a concept since the ‘80s and early ‘90s. When carbon nanotubes (CNT) were reported an interest to revisit the field was triggered. However the tipping point in this technology for composite structures was the idea to develop hybrid nano-modified matrices for continuous fiber reinforced composites. This approach promises composite materials with enhanced performance and integrated functionalities.
Since the early ‘00s when the triggering of technology research on introduction of nanotechnology in fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) was recorded, a significant amount of money and manpower has been invested. Currently, more than 10 years later and numerous studies and promising scientific results that climaxed the expectations; it is evident to the engineering community that the technology of nano-modification to deliver structural composites has reached a crucial milestone towards its short term utilization. This milestone is linked to the need to transform from lab scale -“preparation environment”- to industrial scale -“production environment”. Successfully bridging this gap secures a stable transition from the phase of “disillusionment” to the phase of “enlightenment” where solid benefits and practical applications of the technology are understood. Failing to do so may lead to a rejection of a technology.
This presentation will work on the evolution of nano-composites to nano-enabled composite materials technology. It will go through the development steps and critical results achieved. It shall describe the turns and stepping stones in terms of science, technology, management and market along the evolutionary path of such technologies. Finally, it will attempt to summarize the lessons learnt both in terms of materials science and technology but also in terms of technology maturation.