Tian Tang

Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Wenbin Yu


Wenbin Yu


Leijun Li


Brent E. Stucker


Thomas H. Fronk


David E. Richardson


The issue of accurately determining the effective properties of composite materials has received the attention of numerous researchers in the last few decades and continues to be in the forefront of material research. Micromechanics models have been proven to be very useful tools for design and analysis of composite materials. In the present work, a versatile micromechanics modeling framework, namely, the Variational Asymptotic Method for Unit Cell Homogenization (VAMUCH), has been invented and various micromechancis models have been constructed in light of this novel framework. Considering the periodicity as a small parameter, we can formulate the variational statements of the unit cell through an asymptotic expansion of the energy functional. It is shown that the governing differential equations and periodic boundary conditions of mathematical homogenization theories (MHT) can be reproduced from this variational statement. Finally, we employed the finite element method to solve the numerical solution of the constrained minimization problem. If the local fields within the unit cell are of interest, the proposed models can also accurately recover those fields based on the global behavior. In comparison to other existing models, the advantages of VAMUCH are: (1) it invokes only two essential assumptions within the concept of micromechanics for heterogeneous material with identifiable unit cells; (2) it has an inherent variational nature and its numerical implementation is shown to be straightforward; (3) it calculates the different material properties in different directions simultaneously, which is more efficient than those approaches requiring multiple runs under different loading conditions; and (4) it calculates the effective properties and the local fields directly with the same accuracy as the fluctuation functions. No postprocessing calculations such as stress averaging and strain averaging are needed. The present theory is implemented in the computer program VAMUCH, a versatile engineering code for the homogenization of heterogeneous materials. This new micromechanics modeling approach has been successfully applied to predict the effective properties of composite materials including elastic properties, coefficients of thermal expansion, and specific heat and the effective properties of piezoelectric and electro-magneto-elastic composites. This approach has also been extended to the prediction of the nonlinear response of multiphase composites. Numerous examples have been utilized to clearly demonstrate its application and accuracy as a general-purpose micromechanical analysis tool.