Theses and Dissertations


Juhyeong Lee

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Lacy, Thomas E.

Committee Member

Mazzola, Michael

Committee Member

Pittman Jr., Charles U.

Committee Member

Newman Jr., James C.

Committee Member

Sullivan, Rani W.

Other Advisors or Committee Members

Thompson, Scott M.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Aerospace Engineering

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Aerospace Engineering


Lightning damage resistance of unstitched carbon/epoxy laminates and a Pultruded Rod Stitched Efficient Unitized Structure (PRSEUS) panel were characterized by laboratory-scale lightning strike tests and multiphysics-based lightning strike finite element (FE) models. This dissertation combines three related research topics: (1) a three-dimensional (3D) heat transfer problem, (2) lightning damage resistance assessments of carbon/epoxy laminates, and (3) lightning damage resistance of PRSEUS panel. The first project deals with a 3D analytical heat transfer problem as a solid foundation for understanding the steady-state temperature distribution in an anisotropic composite heat spreader. The second project characterizes lightning damage to unprotected carbon/epoxy laminates and laminates with either copper mesh (CM) or pitch carbon fiber paper (PCFP) protection layers subjected to standard impulse current waveforms, consistent with actual lightning waveforms, with 50, 125, and 200 kA nominal peak currents. Multiphysics-based FE models were developed to predict matrix thermal decomposition (a primary form of lightning damage) in unprotected, CM-protected, and PCFP-protected carbon/epoxy laminates. The predicted matrix decomposition domains in the damaged laminates showed good agreement with experimental results available in the literature. Both the CM and the PCFP lightning protection layers successfully mitigated lightning damage development in the underlying composites. The third project includes lightning damage characterization of a PRSEUS panel. Laboratory-scale lightning strike tests with nominal 50, 125, and 200 kA peak currents were performed at the mid-bay, stringer, frame, and frame/stringer intersection locations of the PRSEUS panel. The elliptical regions of intense local damage were elongated along the outermost lamina’s carbon fiber direction, consistent with observations from the unstitched carbon/epoxy laminates. However, the damaged PRSEUS panel exhibited unique damage features due to use of warp-knitted fabrics and through-thickness VectranTM stitches. The polyester threads used to weave the warp-knitted laminates locally confined small-scale fiber damage. This resulted in somewhat periodic and scattered small tufts of carbon fibers near the lightning attachments. Through-thickness VectranTM stitches also confined intense local damage development at the stringer and frame locations. The polyester warp-knit fabric skins and through-thickness VectranTMstitches have a significant beneficial effect on lightning damage development on a PRSEUS panel.