Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Engineering Science

First Advisor

Chu, Tsuchin


Adhesive bonding of graphite epoxy composite laminates to itself or traditional metal alloys in modern aerospace and aircraft structural applications offers an excellent opportunity to use the most efficient and intelligent combination of materials available thus providing an attractive package for efficient structural designs. However, one of the major issues of adhesive bonding is the occasional formation of interfacial defects such as kissing or weak bonds in the bondline interface. Also, there are shortcomings of existing non-destructive evaluation (NDE) methods to non-destructively detect/characterize these interfacial defects and reliably predicting the bond shear strength. As a result, adhesive bonding technology is still not solely implemented in primary structures of an aircraft. Therefore, there is a greater demand for a novel NDE tool that can meet the existing aerospace requirement for adhesive bondline characterization. This research implemented a novel Acoustography ultrasonic imaging and digital image correlation (DIC) technique to detect and characterize interfacial defects in the bondline and determine bond shear strength in adhesively bonded composite-metal joints. Adhesively bonded Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) laminate and 2024-T3 Aluminum single lap shear panels subjected to various implanted kissing/weak bond defects were the primary focus of this study. Kissing/weak bonds were prepared by controlled surface contamination in the composite bonding surface and also by improperly mixing the adhesive constituent. SEM analyses were also conducted to understand the surface morphology of substrates and their interaction with the contaminants. Morphological changes were observed in the microscopic scale and the chemical analysis confirmed the stability of the contaminant at or very close to the interface. In addition, it was also demonstrated that contaminants migrated during the curing of the adhesive from CFRP substrate which caused a decrease of bond shear strength in single lap shear test samples. Through-transmission ultrasonics (TTU) Acoustography at 3.8 MHz showed promising results on the detectability of bondline defects in adhesively bonded CFRP-Al lap shear test samples. A correlation between Acoustography ultrasonic attenuation and average bond shear strength in CFRP-Al lap shear panels demonstrated that differential attenuation increased with the reduction of the bond shear strength. Similarly, optical DIC tests were conducted to identify and quantify kissing bond defects in CFRP-Al single lap shear joints. DIC results demonstrated changes in the normal strain (εyy) contour map of the contaminated specimens at relatively lower load levels (15% ~ 30% of failure loads). Kissing bond regions were characterized by negative strains, and these were attributed to high compressive bending strains and the localized disbonding taking placed at the bondline interface as a result of the load application. It was also observed that contaminated samples suffered from more compressive strains (εyy) compared to the baseline sample along the loading direction and they suffered from less compressive strains (εxx) compared to the baseline sample perpendicular to the loading direction. This demonstrated the adverse effect of the kissing bond on the adhesive joint integrity. This was a very significant finding for the reason that hybrid ultrasonic DIC is being developed as a faster, more efficient, and more reliable NDE technique for determining bond quality and predicting bond shear strength in adhesively bonded structures.




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