Research Papers

Unraveling the Effect of Material Properties and Geometrical Factors on Ballistic Penetration Energy of Nanoscale Thin Films

[+] Author and Article Information
Zhaoxu Meng

Department of Civil and
Environmental Engineering,
Northwestern University,
2145 Sheridan Road,
Evanston, IL 60208

Sinan Keten

Department of Civil and
Environmental Engineering,
Northwestern University,
2145 Sheridan Road,
Evanston, IL 60208;
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Northwestern University,
2145 Sheridan Road,
Evanston, IL 60208
e-mail: s-keten@northwestern.edu

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received July 12, 2018; final manuscript received July 29, 2018; published online September 7, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Yashashree Kulkarni.

J. Appl. Mech 85(12), 121004 (Sep 07, 2018) (11 pages) Paper No: JAM-18-1406; doi: 10.1115/1.4041041 History: Received July 12, 2018; Revised July 29, 2018

It is crucial to investigate the dynamic mechanical behavior of materials at the nanoscale to create nanostructured protective systems that have superior ballistic impact resistance. Inspired from recent experimental advances that enable ballistic materials testing at small scales, here we report a comparative analysis of the dynamic behavior of nanoscale thin films made from multilayer graphene (MLG), polymer, gold, and aluminum under high-speed projectile impact. We employ atomistic and coarse-grained (CG) molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to measure the ballistic limit velocity (V50) and penetration energy (Ep) of these nanoscale films and investigate their distinctive failure mechanisms over a wide range of impact velocities (Vi). For the local penetration failure mechanism observed in polymer and metal films, we find that the intrinsic mechanical properties influence Ep at low Vi, while material density tends to govern Ep at high Vi. MLG films uniquely show a large impact propagation zone (IPZ), which transfers the highly localized impact energy into elastic deformation energy in a much larger area through cone wave propagation. We present theoretical analyses that corroborate that the size of IPZ should depend not only on material properties but also on a geometrical factor, specifically, the ratio between the projectile radius and film thickness. This study clearly illustrates how material properties and geometrical factors relate to the ballistic penetration energy, thereby allowing a quantitative comparison of the nanoscale ballistic response of different materials.

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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

(a) Simulation snapshots upon failure at ballistic limit velocity (V50) for four different films: MLG, PMMA, gold, and aluminum with the same film thickness of 2 nm. The projectiles used are identical with radius of 6 nm. Here, we show the cross section of one half of the film for clarity. The view of angle is from the upper (impact) side. (b) Ballistic penetration energy (Ep) versus impact velocity (Vi) for the four systems. (c) Scaled ballistic penetration energy (Ep*) by the mass of projected film volume versus Vi.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Simulation snapshots for the four systems under high Vi impact

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

(a) Dependence of Ep on film densities for metal films. (b) Dependence of Ep on film densities for polymer films. (c) Ep of polymer films with different mechanical properties, which are tuned by changing the depth of the LJ potential wells.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

(a) Influence of film density on Ep by using monolayer graphene. (b) Influence of film density on Ep by using a 2 nm thick MLG consisting of six layers.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Ep versus Vi of monolayer graphene case that shows IPZ (a) and of a PMMA film with h=2nm that shows local penetration (b) with different film spans. The projectile radius is constant as 6 nm.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

(a) Ep* of the same PMMA film (h=3nm) subjected to impact by projectiles with different R. The inset shows the low Vi regime. (b) Ep* of PMMA films with different h while using the same projectile (R=8nm). (c) Ep* of gold films with varying h impacted by projectiles with the corresponding R by keeping R/h=2.5: h=2nm, R=5nm; h=4nm, R=10nm; h=6nm, R=15nm.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 7

(a) Ep* for PMMA films with varying h impacted by projectiles with radii being R=2.5h. (b) h=10nm case at Vi=500m/s, the dominant failure mechanism is local tearing. (c) h=10nm case at Vi=1500m/s, fragments are formed after impact, and the fragments are clusters of chains.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 8

Projectile velocity and reaction force profile from simulation data (solid line) and theoretical estimation (dash line) using Eqs. (3) and (4). The simulation settings are h=0.34nm, R=4nm, and Vi=600m/s.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 9

(a) Ep* of a monolayer graphene film as a function of Vi and R. (b) Ep* of a tri-layer graphene film as a function of Vi and R. (c) Ep* of mono-, tri-, and five-layer graphene films using the same projectile with R=6nm.



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