Microstructure and strain rate effects on the mechanical behavior of particle reinforced epoxy-based reactive materials

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White, Bradley William
Thadhani, Naresh N.
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The effects of reactive metal particles on the microstructure and mechanical properties of epoxy-based composites are investigated in this work. To examine these effects castings of epoxy reinforced with 20-40 vol.% Al and 0-10 vol.% Ni were prepared, while varying the aluminum particle size from 5 to 50 microns and holding the nickel particle size constant at 50 microns. In total eight composite materials were produced, possessing unique microstructures. The microstructure is quantitatively characterized and correlated with the composite constitutive response determined from quasi-static and dynamic compressive loading conditions at strain-rates from 1e-4 to 5e3 /s. Microstructures from each composite and at each strain rate were analyzed to determine the amount of particle strain as a function of bulk strain and strain rate. Using computational simulations of representative microstructures of select composites, the epoxy matrix-metallic particle and particle-particle interactions at the mesoscale under dynamic compressive loading conditions were further examined. From computational simulation data, the stress and strain localization effects were characterized at the mesoscale and the bulk mechanical behavior was decomposed into the individual contributions of the constituent phases. The particle strain and computational analysis provided a greater understanding of the mechanisms associated with particle deformation and stress transfer between phases, and their influence on the overall mechanical response of polymer matrix composites reinforced with metallic particles. The highly heterogeneous composite microstructure and the high contrasting properties of the individual constituents were found to drive localized deformations that are often more pronounced than those in the bulk material. The strain rate behavior of epoxy is shown to cause a strain rate dependent deformation response of reinforcement particle phases that are typically strain rate independent. Additionally, the epoxy matrix strength behavior was found to have a higher dependence on strain rate due to the presence of metal particle fillers. Discrepancies between experimental and simulation mechanical behavior results and these findings indicate a need for epoxy constitutive models to incorporate effects of particle reinforcement on the mechanical behavior.
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