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Master of Arts (M.A.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Empirical studies indicate that a polymer reinforced with micro- and nano-scale particles could enhance both the stiffness and toughness of the composite. In addition to these augmented attributes, the composite would be light weight with a high resistance to corrosion making such a material extremely versatile and desirable for a host of applications. Validated computational models that can accurately simulate the effects of micro- and nanoparticle reinforcement on the fracture characteristics of polymer composites are necessary to give insight into how and why this method of reinforcement is effective. Furthermore, a model that can account for non-continuum effects will hasten the development of both new hierarchical composite materials and new theories to explain their behavior. This paper proposes a hierarchal method for modeling fracture in multiscale polymer composites by utilizing an Elastic Network Model (ENM) in conjunction with a Finite Element Analysis (FEA). The novelty of this approach lies in its ability to model a large part with FEA while still accounting for the interactions between the reinforcement particles and the polymer matrix at a scale below the limit of continuum mechanics with the ENM. The intent of the research proposed in this paper is to determine the feasibility of the hierarchical modeling system.