Purdue University Graduate School
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posted on 2021-07-29, 13:13 authored by Ronald F AgyeiRonald F Agyei
In contrast to traditional steel and aluminum, short fiber reinforced polymer composites (SFRCs) provide promising alternatives in material selection for automotive and aerospace applications due to their potential to decrease weight while maintaining excellent mechanical properties. However, uncertainties about the influence of complex microstructures and defects on mechanical response have prevented widespread adoption of material models for
SFRCs. In order to build confidence in models’ predictions requires deepened insight into the heterogenous damage mechanisms. Therefore, this research takes a micro-mechanics standpoint of assessing the damage behavior of SFRCs, particularly micro-void nucleation at the fiber tips, by passing information of microstructural attributes within neighborhoods of incipient damage and non-damage sites, into a framework that establishes correlations between the microstructural information and damage. To achieve this, in-situ x-ray tomography of the gauge sections of two cylindrical injection molded dog-bone specimens, composed of E-glass fibers in a polypropylene matrix, was conducted while the specimens were monotonically loaded until failure. This was followed by (i) the development of microstructural characterization frameworks for segmenting fiber and porosity features in 3D images, (ii) the development of a digital volume correlation informed damage detection framework that confines search spaces of potential damage sites, and (iii) the use of a Gaussian process classification framework to explore the dependency of micro-void nucleation on neighboring microstructural defects by ranking each of their contributions. Specifically, the analysis considered microstructural metrics related to the closest fiber, the closest pore, and the local stiffness, and the results demonstrated that less stiff resin rich areas were more relevant for micro-void nucleation than clustered fiber tips, T-intersections of fibers, or varying porosity volumes. This analysis provides a ranking of microstructural metrics that induce microvoid nucleation, which can be helpful for modelers to validate their predictions on proclivity of damage initiation in the presence of wide distributions of microstructural features and
manufacturing defects.


DARPA grant # HR0011-17-2-0069

NSF CMMI MOM 16-62554


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Aeronautics and Astronautics

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Michael D. Sangid

Additional Committee Member 2

Wayne W. Chen

Additional Committee Member 3

Mary L. Comer

Additional Committee Member 4

Jeffrey P. Youngblood

Additional Committee Member 5

Xianghui Xiao