Computational tools and approaches for design and control of coating and composite color, appearance, and electromagnetic signature

Erik D. Sapper, Brian R. Hinderliter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The transport behavior of electromagnetic radiation through a polymeric coating or composite is the basis for the material color, appearance, and overall electromagnetic signature. As multifunctional materials become more advanced and next generation in-service applications become more demanding, a need for predictive design of electromagnetic signature is desired. This paper presents various components developed and used in a computational suite for the study and design of electromagnetic radiation transport properties in polymeric coatings and composites. Focus is given to the treatment of the forward or direct scattering problem on surfaces and in bulk matrices of polymeric materials. The suite consists of surface and bulk light scattering simulation modules that may be coupled together to produce a multiscale model for predicting the electromagnetic signature of various material systems. Geometric optics ray tracing is used to predict surface scattering behavior of realistically rough surfaces, while a coupled ray tracing-finite element approach is used to predict bulk scattering behavior of material matrices consisting of microscale and nanoscale fillers, pigments, fibers, air voids, and other inclusions. Extension of the suite to color change and appearance metamerism is addressed, as well as the differences between discrete versus statistical material modeling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-81
Number of pages23
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013 by the authors.


  • Appearance
  • Bulk scattering
  • Color
  • Electromagnetic radiation
  • Electromagnetic signature
  • Geometric optics
  • Inclusion scattering
  • Light scattering
  • Surface scattering


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