Damage nucleation and propagation threaten the structural reliability, reduce the service life, and increase the life cycle costs of aerospace and naval structures. In composites, damage evolution is further complicated due to the presence of multiscale damage mechanisms and factors such as material uncertainties, complex loading conditions such as fatigue, and environmental effects. A confocal laser scanning microscopy system is proposed to develop a physical insight into these mechanisms leading to improved progressive damage theories and damage detection techniques. The system features include optimized working platform and objective lenses for 3D scan, and graphic display, with high spatial resolution in multiple length scales. The proposed system can be used to experimentally validate multiscale modeling approaches for the analysis of damage nucleation and propagation for both composites and metallic structures. The scanning can be performed at the relevant length scales to characterize the constituent material properties, quantify uncertainties, and understand damage propagation. The proposed system will complement the tasks in our 2012 ARO project, A Stochastic Approach to Structural Health Monitoring of Advanced Composites, which require the detection and identification of damage nucleation and propagation in composite components while accounting for the propagation of uncertainties across the length scales. The system will also aid the development of multifunctional heterogeneous materials and structures with self-sensing and self-healing capabilities. A 2012 research program funded by AFOSR, Damage Precursor Detection in Polymer Matrix Composites Using Novel Smart Composite Particles, focuses on the development of multifunctional composites to capture damage precursors. The system will be useful during the fabrication and characterization phases, providing a fundamental understanding of the structure/property relationship of the smart composite particles for self-healing and potential self-sensing capability. The proposed research effort will have immense educational impact, ranging from development of new courses on multiscale modeling of progressive damage and structural reliability, including both theoretical and experimental components, to training students in the state-of-the-art testing system. The multidisciplinary nature of the research that will be performed with the proposed system is an ideal platform that will help bring in a wide spectrum of researchers and educators to contribute to the effort as well as benefit from its success. The research outcome will provide a fundamental step forward in the development of robust theoretical platforms for damage identification in a variety of critical applications, including vehicles and weapon systems where structural reliability is a key issue, and efficient multifunctional materials and systems, which offer significant potential for extending the effective operational envelope and improving the efficiency and performance of many DoD assets.
Effective start/end date7/15/137/14/14


  • DOD-ARMY-ARL: Army Research Office (ARO): $249,033.00


Composite materials
Polymer matrix composites
Damage detection
Structural health monitoring
Service life
Environmental impact
Life cycle
Materials properties
Microscopic examination
Display devices
Fatigue of materials