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Access Type

Open Access

Document Type


Degree Program

Mechanical Engineering

Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded

January 2008

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[1]. 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.


First Advisor

Robert Hyers

Second Advisor

Moon Kim