Nanoscale Morphology and Structural Statistical Mechanics in Kevlar® Fibers Following Ballistic Impact into Multi-Ply Fabric
- Type: Conference Presentation
- Conference Type: AIChE Annual Meeting
- Presentation Date: November 9, 2021
- Duration: 15 minutes
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- PDHs: 0.50
Individual Kevlar® KM2+ fibers were resected from a standard multi-layered pack of woven fabric used to measure performance during ballistic projectile impacts. Fibers were collected from 5 distinct regions. Control fibers were collected from woven regions that were not affected by the ballistic event. Broken fibers were collected at the first impacted layer (IL) and the stop layer (SL) where the projectile was stopped and became lodged. Unbroken fibers were collected in two regions in the first layer beneath the projectile that was unbroken by the ballistic impact, the unbroken layer (UL)- directly underneath the projectile and underneath the location of the IL and SL broken fibers. To make internal morphology accessible to high resolution atomic force microscopy, a focused ion beam (FIB) was used to mill two notches perpendicular to the fiber so the fiber can be pulled apart. This action cleaves the highly crystalline fibers in a plane parallel to the fiber axis without altering the fiber internal morphology. Internal morphology was quantified using multi-channel amplitude modulation and frequency modulation of a high-resolution atomic force microscope (AFM) tip. Analyses of the AFM maps enables nanoscale measurements of crystalline fibril widths, crystal pleat misorientation angles, and crystal pleat lengths. Multi-dimensional statistical distributions of these nanoscale features are fingerprints of the mechanics that occurred during ballistic impact. Comparisons among all sampled layers for each feature measurement distributions were performed using statistical tests, showing differences between morphology distributions that are statistically significant. These morphological changes were then related to specific forces and deformation mechanisms using controlled fiber deformation experiments. Discontinuities of the multichannel AFM signal maps indicate defects relative to perfect, single crystals. The count of these discontinuities is used to compute the defect density enabling the quantification of changes in defectivity among all sampled layers.
The ballistic event results in significant extensional and compressive deformations throughout the system. Statistically significant changes to internal morphology, relative to the control, are present in each layer analyzed. The observed changes in morphology indicate a transition from tensile to a mixture of tensile and compressive forces as the projectile interacts with layers further from the first layer impacted. Defectivity analysis shows that only the SL, the layer where the projectile was found lodged after ballistic impact, has increased defectivity relative to the control. This increased defectivity indicates the SL absorbed more energy density than the other layers analyzed. These are surprising results and in stark contrast to state-of-the-art models that predict only extensional deformations. The observed deformation mechanisms indicate that improved performance of layered ballistic fabrics can be achieved by altering layer properties and enhancing compressive strength.
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