Carbon fibers (alternatively CF, graphite fiber) are fibers about 5 to 10 micrometers  in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms. 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. 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.

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 explained by Pritish Kumar Halder, which may be used by itself or woven into a fabric.

Structure and properties

Carbon fiber is frequently supplied in the form of a continuous tow wound onto a reel. The tow is a bundle of thousands of continuous individual carbon filaments held together. And protected by an organic coating, or size, such as polyethylene oxide (PEO) or polyvinyl alcohol (PVA). The tow can be conveniently unwound from the reel for use. Each carbon filament in the tow is a continuous cylinder with a diameter of 5–10 micrometers and consists almost exclusively of carbon.

The atomic structure of carbon fiber is similar to that of graphite. It consisting of sheets of carbon atoms arranged in a regular hexagonal pattern (graphene sheets). The difference being in the way these sheets interlock. Graphite is a crystalline material in which the sheets are stacked parallel to one another in regular fashion. The intermolecular forces between the sheets are relatively weak Van der Waals forces, giving graphite its soft, brittle characteristics.


Carbon fiber can have higher cost than other materials which has been one of the limiting factors of adoption. In a comparison between steel and carbon fiber materials for automotive materials. Carbon fiber may be 10-12x more expensive. However, this cost premium has come down over the past decade from estimates of 35x more expensive than steel in the early 2000s.

Composite materials

Carbon fiber is most notably used to reinforce composite materials. Particularly the class of materials known as carbon fiber or graphite reinforced polymers. Non-polymer materials can also be used as the matrix for carbon fibers. Due to the formation of metal carbides and corrosion considerations, carbon has seen limited success in metal matrix composite applications. Reinforced carbon-carbon (RCC) consists of carbon fiber-reinforced graphite. And is used structurally in high-temperature applications. The fiber also finds use in filtration of high-temperature gases. As an electrode with high surface area and impeccable corrosion resistance. And as an anti-static component.

helicopter tail


Precursors for carbon fibers are polyacrylonitrile (PAN), rayon and pitch. Carbon fiber filament yarns are used in several processing techniques. The direct uses are for prepregging, filament winding, pultrusion, weaving, braiding, the moset composites because a dense, compact layer of carbon fibers efficiently reflects heat.

Motorcycle Racing Glove


Carbon fibers are used for fabrication of carbon-fiber microelectrodes. In this application typically a single carbon fiber with diameter of 5–7 μm is sealed in a glass capillary. At the tip the capillary is either sealed with epoxy and polished to make carbon-fiber disk microelectrode or the fiber is cut to a length of 75–150 μm to make carbon-fiber cylinder electrode. Carbon-fiber microelectrodes are used Synthesis

Synthesis of carbon fiber

Each carbon filament is produced from a polymer such as polyacrylonitrile (PAN), rayon, or petroleum pitch. All these polymers are known as a precursor. For synthetic polymers such as PAN or rayon, the precursor is first spun into filament yarns. Using chemical and mechanical processes to initially align the polymer molecules in a way to enhance the final physical properties of the completed carbon fiber. Precursor compositions and mechanical processes used during spinning filament yarns may vary among manufacturers. After drawing or spinning, the polymer filament yarns are then heated to drive off non-carbon atoms (carbonization), producing the final carbon fiber.  either in amperometry or fast-scan cyclic voltammetry for detection of biochemical signaling.