Auburn engineering faculty members receive DTRA grant

Published: Sep 3, 2009 4:50:00 PM
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Maria Auad

Maria Auad

Maria Auad, assistant professor in the Department of Polymer and Fiber Engineering, and Hareesh Tippur, professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, have received a three-year grant for more than $450,000 from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). The funding will be used to conduct research on transparent armor materials that withstand extreme mechanical stress and toxic chemical environments found with weapons of mass destruction.

The focus of the research is the development, high-strain rate mechanical characterization and modeling of transparent interpenetrating polymer networks (t-IPN) for protective eyewear, face shields, blast proof windows and aircraft canopies. These high-performance materials would replace polycarbonates commonly used as transparent armor material for blast and shock mitigation.

Hareesh Tippur

Hareesh Tippur

"This research will combat some of the challenges that personnel and military infrastructures face in the event of mass destruction situations," said Auad. "Successful processing of t-IPN will provide a new, lightweight material for transparent armor applications, with superior performance under stress-wave loading conditions."

Auad's research group will focus on processing and characterization issues of the material. Her research will involve developing the t-IPN for optical, mechanical, thermal and chemical performance, which stems from projects exploring problems associated with the design, manufacture and behavior of polymeric materials.

"Developing stronger and tougher transparent materials is important in both aerospace and transportation engineering for the military and civilians," said Tippur. "The project requires us to develop a nanoparticle reinforced multiphase material system that is transparent and fracture resistant under impact or shock loading to supplement the single phase or layered materials used now."

Tippur's group will examine the high-strain rate performance aspects of the t-IPN and create methods to understand the fracture and failure behavior of transparent materials. With the help of the grant, the group will expand the facilities that Tippur has developed for rapid loading of materials, real-time optical diagnostics and ultra high-speed photography in order to better understand the mechanics of the new materials.

For more information on this and other projects in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, visit

Contributed by Cassity Hughes