Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Physics and Astronomy

Document Type



This project explores helmet-to-helmet impacts and their detriments with a unique perspective. The propagation of dangerous waves into the brain can result in a concussion. Considering 60% of NFL players have had at least one concussion (Epstein 2011), it is imperative to understand the materials that construct helmets and observe how these materials behave in regards to impact location while recording wave propagations from the impacts. This study interrogates the effect of asymmetric impacts on gridiron football helmets using the Large Chamber Scanning Electron Microscope (LC-SEM). Utilizing two standard issued football helmets made of polycarbonates, a hard plastic, vibrations from a controlled impacted recorded by accelerometers placed along the shell of the helmet measured waves of ±4g force. The frontal impact recordings depicted higher single peaks, while side impacts revealed vibrational relatively lower peaks. To investigate the response of the helmet material to collisions, helmet impacts were carried out in air using a specific pendulum apparatus (to simulate the collisions) and 179 N of force. It was subsequently studied in the LC-SEM and the images depicted clear damage to the helmet shell. Ultimately, this project seeks to provide aid in the endeavor of concussion prevention headgear.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Edward Kintzel


Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Physics

Included in

Physics Commons