Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

William Keat




aerogel, elements, fractal, linear, fragmentation


Aerogels are solid, porous and light materials that are 90-99% air by volume, with particularly small pore sizes and large specific surface areas. According to previous studies, silica aerogels have appeared to be typical fractal materials. Its microstructure can be described as a fractal network in the length scale 10-1000Å, which is considered to be the result of an aggregation mechanism. To model the behavior of this material, a non-linear finite element code was developed to determine the sequence in which elements fail under compressive load for different starting pore distributions. The 2D geometry of the brittle silica lattice was represented by a single strand of bar elements interconnected by transverse beam elements. As pores collapsed, broken elements were replaced by non-linear contact springs to efficiently model fragmentation of the lattice. Results agreed with the expectation.