Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Engineering Science


Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Ahmed Al-Ostaz

Second Advisor

Hunain Alkhateb

Third Advisor

Ellen Lackey

Relational Format



The Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is a harsh environment cluttered with natural meteoroids and man-made debris, which can travel at velocities approaching 15 km/s. Most space activities within the LEO will encounter this environment. Thus, the spacecraft and its hardware must be designed to survive debris impact. This research introduces new procedures to produce a nano-composite material with mortar-brick nano-structure inspired from nacre. Nacre-like composites were successfully manufactured, based on three host polymers, with a wide range of graphene concentrations. The manufactured exfoliated graphene nano-platelet, embedded in a host polymer, provided good potential for enhancement of the hypervelocity impact (HVI) shield resistance. The nano-composites are suggested for use as a coating. Moreover, explicit dynamic finite element studies were conducted for further investigation of the hypervelocity impact of the graphene-based coatings in order to understand the effect of the coating on the crater formation and the exit velocity. This dissertation presents the results of the characterization and numerical sensitivity study of the developed material parameters. The numerical simulations were performed by implementing Autodyn smooth particle hydrodynamics. This study provides innovative, low-weight shielding enhancements for spacecraft, as well as other promising applications for the manufactured nano-composites.


Emphasis: Civil Engineering

Included in

Engineering Commons



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