Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Material Science Engineering (MSMatSE)


Materials Engineering

First Advisor

Weinong Wayne Chen

Committee Chair

Weinong Wayne Chen

Committee Member 1

Carlos J Martinez

Committee Member 2

Jeffrey P Youngblood

Committee Member 3

Volkan Ortalan


High performance fibers have a high tensile strength and modulus, good wear resistance, and a low density, making them ideal for applications in ballistic impact resistance, such as body armor. However, the observed ballistic performance of these fibers is much lower than the predicted values. Since the predictions assume only tensile stress failure, it is safe to assume that the stress state is affecting fiber performance. The purpose of this research was to determine if there are failure mode changes in the fiber fracture when transversely loaded by indenters of different shapes. An experimental design mimicking transverse impact was used to determine any such effects. Three different indenters were used: round, FSP, and razor blade. The indenter height was changed to change the angle of failure tested. Five high performance fibers were examined: Kevlar® KM2, Spectra® 130d, Dyneema® SK-62 and SK-76, and Zylon® 555. Failed fibers were analyzed using an SEM to determine failure mechanisms. The results show that the round and razor blade indenters produced a constant failure strain, as well as failure mechanisms independent of testing angle. The FSP indenter produced a decrease in failure strain as the angle increased. Fibrillation was the dominant failure mechanism at all angles for the round indenter, while through thickness shearing was the failure mechanism for the razor blade. The FSP indenter showed a transition from fibrillation at low angles to through thickness shearing at high angles, indicating that the round and razor blade indenters are extreme cases of the FSP indenter. The failure mechanisms observed with the FSP indenter at various angles correlated with the experimental strain data obtained during fiber testing. This indicates that geometry of the indenter tip in compression is a contributing factor in lowering the failure strain of the high performance fibers. TEM analysis of the fiber failure mechanisms was also attempted, though without success.