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Nanostructured materials are extensively applied in many fields of material science for new industrial applications, particularly in the automotive, aerospace industry due to their exceptional physical and mechanical properties. Experimental testing of nanomaterials is expensive, timeconsuming,challenging and sometimes unfeasible. Therefore,computational simulations have been employed as alternative method to predict macroscopic material properties. The behavior of polymeric nanocomposites (PNCs) are highly complex.
The origins of macroscopic material properties reside in the properties and interactions taking place on finer scales. It is therefore essential to use multiscale modeling strategy to properly account for all large length and time scales associated with these material systems, which across many orders of magnitude. Numerous multiscale models of PNCs have been established, however, most of them connect only two scales. There are a few multiscale models for PNCs bridging four length scales (nano-, micro-, meso- and macro-scales). In addition, nanomaterials are stochastic in nature and the prediction of macroscopic mechanical properties are influenced by many factors such as fine-scale features. The predicted mechanical properties obtained by traditional approaches significantly deviate from the measured values in experiments due to neglecting uncertainty of material features. This discrepancy is indicated that the effective macroscopic properties of materials are highly sensitive to various sources of uncertainty, such as loading and boundary conditions and material characteristics, etc., while very few stochastic multiscale models for PNCs have been developed. Therefore, it is essential to construct PNC models within the framework of stochastic modeling and quantify the stochastic effect of the input parameters on the macroscopic mechanical properties of those materials.
This study aims to develop computational models at four length scales (nano-, micro-, meso- and macro-scales) and hierarchical upscaling approaches bridging length scales from nano- to macro-scales. A framework for uncertainty quantification (UQ) applied to predict the mechanical properties
of the PNCs in dependence of material features at different scales is studied. Sensitivity and uncertainty analysis are of great helps in quantifying the effect of input parameters, considering both main and interaction effects, on the mechanical properties of the PNCs. To achieve this major
goal, the following tasks are carried out:
At nano-scale, molecular dynamics (MD) were used to investigate deformation mechanism of glassy amorphous polyethylene (PE) in dependence of temperature and strain rate. Steered molecular dynamics (SMD)were also employed to investigate interfacial characteristic of the PNCs.
At mico-scale, we developed an atomistic-based continuum model represented by a representative volume element (RVE) in which the SWNT’s properties and the SWNT/polymer interphase are modeled at nano-scale, the surrounding polymer matrix is modeled by solid elements. Then, a two-parameter model was employed at meso-scale. A hierarchical multiscale approach has been developed to obtain the structure-property relations at one length scale and transfer the effect to the higher length
scales. In particular, we homogenized the RVE into an equivalent fiber.
The equivalent fiber was then employed in a micromechanical analysis (i.e. Mori-Tanaka model) to predict the effective macroscopic properties of the PNC. Furthermore, an averaging homogenization process was also used to obtain the effective stiffness of the PCN at meso-scale.
Stochastic modeling and uncertainty quantification consist of the following ingredients:
- Simple random sampling, Latin hypercube sampling, Sobol’ quasirandom sequences, Iman and Conover’s method (inducing correlation in Latin hypercube sampling) are employed to generate independent and dependent sample data, respectively.
- Surrogate models, such as polynomial regression, moving least squares (MLS), hybrid method combining polynomial regression and MLS, Kriging regression, and penalized spline regression, are employed as an approximation of a mechanical model. The advantage of the surrogate models is the high computational efficiency and robust as they can be constructed from a limited amount of available data.
- Global sensitivity analysis (SA) methods, such as variance-based methods for models with independent and dependent input parameters, Fourier-based techniques for performing variance-based methods and partial derivatives, elementary effects in the context of local SA, are used to quantify the effects of input parameters and their interactions on the mechanical properties of the PNCs. A bootstrap technique is used to assess the robustness of the global SA methods with respect to their performance.
In addition, the probability distribution of mechanical properties are determined by using the probability plot method. The upper and lower bounds of the predicted Young’s modulus according to 95 % prediction intervals were provided.
The above-mentioned methods study on the behaviour of intact materials. Novel numerical methods such as a node-based smoothed extended finite element method (NS-XFEM) and an edge-based smoothed phantom node method (ES-Phantom node) were developed for fracture problems. These methods can be used to account for crack at macro-scale for future works. The predicted mechanical properties were validated and verified. They show good agreement with previous experimental and simulations results.

Methods based on B-splines for model representation, numerical analysis and image registration
(2015)

The thesis consists of inter-connected parts for modeling and analysis using newly developed isogeometric methods. The main parts are reproducing kernel triangular B-splines, extended isogeometric analysis for solving weakly discontinuous problems, collocation methods using superconvergent points, and B-spline basis in image registration applications.
Each topic is oriented towards application of isogeometric analysis basis functions to ease the process of integrating the modeling and analysis phases of simulation.
First, we develop reproducing a kernel triangular B-spline-based FEM for solving PDEs. We review the triangular B-splines and their properties. By definition, the triangular basis function is very flexible in modeling complicated domains. However, instability results when it is applied for analysis. We modify the triangular B-spline by a reproducing kernel technique, calculating a correction term for the triangular kernel function from the chosen surrounding basis. The improved triangular basis is capable to obtain the results with higher accuracy and almost optimal convergence rates.
Second, we propose an extended isogeometric analysis for dealing with weakly discontinuous problems such as material interfaces. The original IGA is combined with XFEM-like enrichments which are continuous functions themselves but with discontinuous derivatives. Consequently, the resulting solution space can approximate solutions with weak discontinuities. The method is also applied to curved material interfaces, where the inverse mapping and the curved triangular elements are considered.
Third, we develop an IGA collocation method using superconvergent points. The collocation methods are efficient because no numerical integration is needed. In particular when higher polynomial basis applied, the method has a lower computational cost than Galerkin methods. However, the positions of the collocation points are crucial for the accuracy of the method, as they affect the convergent rate significantly. The proposed IGA collocation method uses superconvergent points instead of the traditional Greville abscissae points. The numerical results show the proposed method can have better accuracy and optimal convergence rates, while the traditional IGA collocation has optimal convergence only for even polynomial degrees.
Lastly, we propose a novel dynamic multilevel technique for handling image registration. It is application of the B-spline functions in image processing. The procedure considered aims to align a target image from a reference image by a spatial transformation. The method starts with an energy function which is the same as a FEM-based image registration. However, we simplify the solving procedure, working on the energy function directly. We dynamically solve for control points which are coefficients of B-spline basis functions. The new approach is more simple and fast. Moreover, it is also enhanced by a multilevel technique in order to prevent instabilities. The numerical testing consists of two artificial images, four real bio-medical MRI brain and CT heart images, and they show our registration method is accurate, fast and efficient, especially for large deformation problems.

One major research focus in the Material Science and Engineering Community in the past decade has been to obtain a more fundamental understanding on the phenomenon 'material failure'. Such an understanding is critical for engineers and scientists developing new materials with higher strength and toughness, developing robust designs against failure, or for those concerned with an accurate estimate of a component's design life. Defects like cracks and dislocations evolve at
nano scales and influence the macroscopic properties such as strength, toughness and ductility of a material. In engineering applications, the global response of the system is often governed by the behaviour at the smaller length scales. Hence, the sub-scale behaviour must be computed accurately for good predictions of the full scale behaviour.
Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations promise to reveal the fundamental mechanics of material failure by modeling the atom to atom interactions. Since the atomistic dimensions are of the order of Angstroms ( A), approximately 85 billion atoms are required to model a 1 micro- m^3 volume of Copper. Therefore, pure atomistic models are prohibitively expensive with everyday engineering computations involving macroscopic cracks and shear bands, which are much larger than the atomistic length and time scales. To reduce the computational effort, multiscale methods are required, which are able to couple a continuum description of the structure with an atomistic description. In such paradigms, cracks and dislocations are explicitly modeled at the atomistic scale, whilst a self-consistent continuum model elsewhere.
Many multiscale methods for fracture are developed for "fictitious" materials based on "simple" potentials such as the Lennard-Jones potential. Moreover, multiscale methods for evolving cracks are rare. Efficient methods to coarse grain the fine scale defects are missing. However, the existing multiscale methods for fracture do not adaptively adjust the fine scale domain as the crack propagates. Most methods, therefore only "enlarge" the fine scale domain and therefore drastically increase computational cost. Adaptive adjustment requires the fine scale domain to be refined and coarsened. One of the major difficulties in multiscale methods for fracture is to up-scale fracture related material information from the fine scale to the coarse scale, in particular for complex crack problems. Most of the existing approaches therefore were applied to examples with comparatively few macroscopic cracks.
Key contributions
The bridging scale method is enhanced using the phantom node method so that cracks can be modeled at the coarse scale. To ensure self-consistency in the bulk, a virtual atom cluster is devised providing the response of the intact material at the coarse scale. A molecular statics model is employed in the fine scale where crack propagation is modeled by naturally breaking the bonds. The fine scale and coarse scale models are coupled by enforcing the displacement boundary conditions on the ghost atoms. An energy criterion is used to detect the crack tip location. Adaptive refinement and coarsening schemes are developed and implemented during the crack propagation. The results were observed to be in excellent agreement with the pure atomistic simulations. The developed multiscale method is one of the first adaptive multiscale method for fracture.
A robust and simple three dimensional coarse graining technique to convert a given atomistic region into an equivalent coarse region, in the context of multiscale fracture has been developed. The developed method is the first of its kind. The developed coarse graining technique can be applied to identify and upscale the defects like: cracks, dislocations and shear bands. The current method has been applied to estimate the equivalent coarse scale models of several complex fracture patterns arrived from the pure atomistic simulations. The upscaled fracture pattern agree well with the actual fracture pattern. The error in the potential energy of the pure atomistic and the coarse grained model was observed to be acceptable.
A first novel meshless adaptive multiscale method for fracture has been developed. The phantom node method is replaced by a meshless differential reproducing kernel particle method. The differential reproducing kernel particle method is comparatively more expensive but allows for a more "natural" coupling between the two scales due to the meshless interpolation functions. The higher order continuity is also beneficial. The centro symmetry parameter is used to detect the crack tip location. The developed multiscale method is employed to study the complex crack propagation. Results based on the meshless adaptive multiscale method were observed to be in excellent agreement with the pure atomistic simulations.
The developed multiscale methods are applied to study the fracture in practical materials like Graphene and Graphene on Silicon surface. The bond stretching and the bond reorientation were observed to be the net mechanisms of the crack growth in Graphene. The influence of time step on the crack propagation was studied using two different time steps. Pure atomistic simulations of fracture in Graphene on Silicon surface are presented. Details of the three dimensional multiscale method to study the fracture in Graphene on Silicon surface are discussed.