Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Barry D. Davidson



Subject Categories



Delamination is one of the major failure modes seen in the laminated polymeric matrix composite (PMC). Accurate prediction of delamination initiation and propagation is important for the design and analysis of robust composite structures. Existing experimental methodologies that are based on linear elastic fracture mechanics are inadequate to characterize delamination fracture properties under elevated temperature when PMC properties become time-, loading-history, and rate-dependent. A new experimental methodology based on linear viscoelastic fracture theory is developed and verified through finite element analysis and experiments. This new technique determines crack growth curves, such as stress intensity factor vs. crack growth speed and fracture initiation energy vs. crack initiation time, through the experimentally determined J-integral, Js, for a linear viscoelastic double cantilever beam (DCB) specimen. Special test setup is designed and validated for determining accurate Js using just the applied load and the load end rotation angles. This new methodology is then applied to measure the mode I fracture properties of a highly toughened graphite/epoxy composite under various environmental conditions.


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