Project Overview

Lightweight materials are of increasing importance in the transportation industries, automotive, aerospace and railway, where the weight of a structure has a direct influence on operating cost and performance. Recently, several different classes of material have emerged as alternatives to traditional construction materials, due to the potential for weight reduction. Examples are polymers or hybrid materials such as fibre-reinforced composites as well as light weight alloys (e.g. aluminium alloys), ceramics, layered materials and sandwich structures. One key challenge in designing lightweight structures, especially in applications which might involve deformation under dynamic loadings, is to reduce the weight of the structure without decreasing its energy absorption capability.

This research project aims to investigate and to understand the behaviour of various composite structures against impact. Both low and high velocity impact responses will be considered. Low velocity impact tests, up to velocity 10 m s-1, will be performed using a drop tower facility while higher velocity impact tests will be conducted using a gas gun up to velocity 200 m s-1. High velocity 3D digital image correlation and numerical approaches, especially finite element simulation using Abaqus, will be employed to investigate the performance of structures under impact. Increasing the damage tolerance by hybridisation of fibres, introducing micro and nano-fillers into polymer matrices and usage of tough thermoplastic matrices will be explored. Non-destructive testing is another important aspect of this project. Various techniques will be employed to assess the impact damage at different velocities and its effect on post-impact structural performance of these structures.

Materials of interest are:

a)    Composite materials and sandwich structures with different core materials,

b)    Laminated glass structures as it used for aircraft windshield.


  • Mr Jun Liu (Imperial College London)