Nanotubes, graphene, ballistics, composite armor, composites, energy absorption, raman spectroscopy, kevlar, split hopkinson bar, unnotched cantilever beam impact, v50, mixed mode interlaminar shear, astm d6671, astm d4812, mil std 662f, nanocomposite, carbon nanotubes, mwcnt, core shell rubber, crack propagation, impact resistance, energy release rate


Carbon nanotubes, graphene and nano sized core shell rubber particles have all been extensively researched for their capability to improve mechanical properties of thermoset resins. However, there has been a lack of research on their evaluation for energy absorption in high velocity impact scenarios, and the fundamental mechanics of their failure mechanisms during highly dynamic stress transfer through the matrix. This fundamental research is essential for laying the foundation for improvement in ballistic performance in composite armor. In hard armor applications, energy absorption is largely accomplished through delamination between plies of the composite laminate. This energy absorption is accomplished through two mechanisms. The first being the elongation of the fiber reinforcement contained in the resin matrix, and the second is the propagation of the crack in between the discreet fabric plies. This research aims to fundamentally study the energy absorption characteristics of various nano-particles as reinforcements in thermoset resin for high velocity impact applications. Multiple morphologies will be evaluated through use of platelet, tubular and spherical shaped nano-particles. Evaluations of the effect on stress transfer through the matrix due to the combination of nano sized and micro scale particles of milled fiber is conducted. Three different nano-particles are utilized, specifically, multi-walled carbon nanotubes, graphene, and core shell rubber particles. The difference in surface area, aspect ratio and molecular structure between the tube, platelet and spherical nano-particles causes energy absorption through different failure mechanisms. This changes the impact performance of composite panels enhanced with the nanoparticle fillers. Composite panels made through the use of dispersing the various nano-particles iv in a non-contact planetary mixer, are evaluated through various dynamic and static testing, including unnotched cantilever beam impact, mixed mode fracture toughness, split-Hopkinson bar, and ballistic V50 testing. The unnotched cantilever beam testing showed that the addition of milled fiber degraded the impact resistance of the samples. Addition of graphene nano platelets unilaterally degraded impact resistance through the unnotched cantilever beam testing. 1.5% loading of MWCNT showed the greatest increase in impact resistance, with a 43% increase over baseline. Determining the critical load for mixed mode interlaminar shear testing can be difficult for composite panels that bend without breaking. An iterative technique of optimizing the coefficient of determination, R2 , in linear regression is developed for objectively determining the point of non-linearity for critical load. This allows for a mathematical method of determination; thereby eliminating any subjective decision of choosing where the data becomes non-linear. The core shell rubber nano particles showed the greatest strain energy release rate with an exponential improvement over the baseline results. Synergistic effects between nano and micro sized particles in the resin matrix during transfer of the stress wave were created and evaluated. Loadings of 1% milled carbon fiber enhanced the V50 ballistic performance of both carbon nanotube and core shell rubber particles in the resin matrix. However, the addition of milled carbon fiber degrades the impact resistance of all nano-particle enhanced resin matrices. Therefore, benefits gained from the addition of microsized particles in combination with nano-sized particles, are only seen in high energy impact scenarios with micro second durations. v Loadings of 1% core shell rubber particles and 1% milled carbon fiber have an improvement of 8% in V50 ballistic performance over the baseline epoxy sample for 44 mag single wad cutter gas check projectiles. Loadings of 1% multi-walled carbon nanotubes with 1% milled carbon fiber have an improvement of 7.3% in V50 ballistic performance over the baseline epoxy sample. The failure mechanism of the various nano-particle enhanced resin matrices during the ballistic event is discussed through the use of scanning electron microscope images and Raman spectroscopy of the panels after failure. The Raman spectroscopy data shows a Raman shift for the fibers that had an enhancement in the V50 performance through the use of nano-particles. The Raman band for Kevlar® centered at 1,649 cm-1 stemming from the stretching of the C==O bond of the fiber shows to be more sensitive to the residual axial strain, while the Raman band centered at 1,611 cm-1 stemming from the C-C phenyl ring is minimally affected for the CSR enhanced panels due to the failure mechanism of the CSR particles during crack propagation.


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Graduation Date





Gou, Jihua


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Degree Program

Mechanical Engineering








Release Date

August 2016

Length of Campus-only Access

3 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering and Computer Science, Engineering and Computer Science -- Dissertations, Academic