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Matrix-free voxel-based finite element method for materials with heterogeneous microstructures
(2018)

Modern image detection techniques such as micro computer tomography
(μCT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) provide us with high resolution images of the microstructure of materials in a non-invasive and convenient way. They form the basis for the geometrical models of high-resolution analysis, so called image-based analysis.
However especially in 3D, discretizations of these models reach easily the size of 100 Mill. degrees of freedoms and require extensive hardware resources in terms of main memory and computing power to solve the numerical model. Consequently, the focus of this work is to combine and adapt numerical solution methods to reduce the memory demand first and then the computation time and therewith enable an execution of the image-based analysis on modern computer desktops. Hence, the numerical model is a straightforward grid discretization of the voxel-based (pixels with a third dimension) geometry which omits the boundary detection algorithms and allows reduced storage of the finite element data structure and a matrix-free solution algorithm.
This in turn reduce the effort of almost all applied grid-based solution techniques and results in memory efficient and numerically stable algorithms for the microstructural models. Two variants of the matrix-free algorithm are presented. The efficient iterative solution method of conjugate gradients is used with matrix-free applicable preconditioners such as the Jacobi and the especially suited multigrid method. The jagged material boundaries of the voxel-based mesh are smoothed through embedded boundary elements which contain different material information at the integration point and are integrated sub-cell wise though without additional boundary detection. The efficiency of the matrix-free methods can be retained.

Phase Field Modeling for Fracture with Applications to Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Materials
(2017)

The thesis presents an implementation including different applications of a variational-based approach for gradient type standard dissipative solids. Phase field model for brittle fracture is an application of the variational-based framework for gradient type solids. This model allows the prediction of different crack topologies and states. Of significant concern is the application of theoretical and numerical formulation of the phase field modeling into the commercial finite element software Abaqus in 2D and 3D. The fully coupled incremental variational formulation of phase field method is implemented by using the UEL and UMAT subroutines of Abaqus. The phase field method
considerably reduces the implementation complexity of fracture problems as it removes the need for numerical tracking of discontinuities in the displacement field that are characteristic of discrete crack methods. This is accomplished by replacing the sharp discontinuities with a scalar damage phase field representing the diffuse crack topology wherein the amount of diffusion is controlled by a regularization parameter. The nonlinear coupled system consisting of the linear momentum equation and a diffusion type equation governing the phase field evolution is solved simultaneously via a Newton-
Raphson approach. Post-processing of simulation results to be used as visualization
module is performed via an additional UMAT subroutine implemented in the standard Abaqus viewer.
In the same context, we propose a simple yet effective algorithm to initiate and propagate cracks in 2D geometries which is independent of both particular constitutive laws and specific element technology and dimension. It consists of a localization limiter in the form of the screened Poisson equation with, optionally, local mesh refinement. A staggered scheme for standard equilibrium and screened Cauchy equations is used. The remeshing part of the algorithm consists of a sequence of mesh subdivision and element erosion steps. Element subdivision is based on edge split operations using a
given constitutive quantity (either damage or void fraction). Mesh smoothing makes use of edge contraction as function of a given constitutive quantity such as the principal stress or void fraction. To assess the robustness and accuracy of this algorithm, we use both quasi-brittle benchmarks and ductile tests.
Furthermore, we introduce a computational approach regarding mechanical loading in microscale on an inelastically deforming composite material. The nanocomposites material of fully exfoliated clay/epoxy is shaped to predict macroscopic elastic and fracture related material parameters based on their fine–scale features. Two different configurations of polymer nanocomposites material (PNCs) have been studied. These configurations are fully bonded PNCs and PNCs with an interphase zone formation between the matrix and the clay reinforcement. The representative volume element of PNCs specimens with different clay weight contents, different aspect ratios, and different
interphase zone thicknesses are generated by adopting Python scripting. Different constitutive models are employed for the matrix, the clay platelets, and the interphase zones. The brittle fracture behavior of the epoxy matrix and the interphase zones material are modeled using the phase field approach, whereas the stiff silicate clay platelets of the composite are designated as a linear elastic material. The comprehensive study investigates the elastic and fracture behavior of PNCs composites, in addition to predict Young’s modulus, tensile strength, fracture toughness, surface energy dissipation, and cracks surface area in the composite for different material parameters, geometry, and interphase zones properties and thicknesses.

The gradual digitization in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry over the past fifty years led to an extremely heterogeneous software environment, which today is embodied by the multitude of different digital tools and proprietary data formats used by the many specialists contributing to the design process in a construction project. Though these projects become increasingly complex, the demands on financial efficiency and the completion within a tight schedule grow at the same time. The digital collaboration of project partners has been identified as one key issue in successfully dealing with these challenges. Yet currently, the numerous software applications and their respective individual views on the design process severely impede that collaboration.
An approach to establish a unified basis for the digital collaboration, regardless of the existing software heterogeneity, is a comprehensive digital building model contributed to by all projects partners. This type of data management known as building information modeling (BIM) has many benefits, yet its adoption is associated with many difficulties and thus, proceeds only slowly. One aspect in the field of conflicting requirements on such a digital model is the cooperation of architects and structural engineers. Traditionally, these two disciplines use different abstractions of reality for their models that in consequence lead to incompatible digital representations thereof.
The onset of isogeometric analysis (IGA) promised to ease the discrepancy in design and analysis model representations. Yet, that initial focus quickly shifted towards using these methods as a more powerful basis for numerical simulations. Furthermore, the isogeometric representation alone is not capable of solving the model abstraction problem. It is thus the intention of this work to contribute to an improved digital collaboration of architects and engineers by exploring an integrated analysis approach on the basis of an unified digital model and solid geometry expressed by splines. In the course of this work, an analysis framework is developed that utilizes such models to automatically conduct numerical simulations commonly required in construction projects. In essence, this allows to retrieve structural analysis results from BIM models in a fast and simple manner, thereby facilitating rapid design iterations and profound design feedback.
The BIM implementation Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) is reviewed with regard to its capabilities of representing the unified model. The current IFC schema strongly supports the use of redundant model data, a major pitfall in digital collaboration. Additionally, it does not allow to describe the geometry by volumetric splines. As the pursued approach builds upon a unique model for both, architectural and structural design, and furthermore requires solid geometry, necessary schema modifications are suggested.
Structural entities are modeled by volumetric NURBS patches, each of which constitutes an individual subdomain that, with regard to the analysis, is incompatible with the remaining full model. The resulting consequences for numerical simulation are elaborated in this work. The individual subdomains have to be weakly coupled, for which the mortar method is used. Different approaches to discretize the interface traction fields are implemented and their respective impact on the analysis results is evaluated. All necessary coupling conditions are automatically derived from the related geometry model.
The weak coupling procedure leads to a linear system of equations in saddle point form, which, owed to the volumetric modeling, is large in size and, the associated coefficient matrix has, due to the use of higher degree basis functions, a high bandwidth. The peculiarities of the system require adapted solution methods that generally cause higher numerical costs than the standard procedures for symmetric, positive-definite systems do. Different methods to solve the specific system are investigated and an efficient parallel algorithm is finally proposed.
When the structural analysis model is derived from the unified model in the BIM data, it does in general initially not meet the requirements on the discretization that are necessary to obtain sufficiently accurate analysis results. The consequently necessary patch refinements must be controlled automatically to allowfor an entirely automatic analysis procedure. For that purpose, an empirical refinement scheme based on the geometrical and possibly mechanical properties of the specific entities is proposed. The level of refinement may be selectively manipulated by the structural engineer in charge. Furthermore, a Zienkiewicz-Zhu type error estimator is adapted for the use with isogeometric analysis results. It is shown that also this estimator can be used to steer an adaptive refinement procedure.

Piezoelectric materials are used in several applications as sensors and actuators where they experience high stress and electric field concentrations as a result of which they may fail due to fracture. Though there are many analytical and experimental works on piezoelectric fracture mechanics. There are very few studies about damage detection, which is an interesting way to prevent the failure of these ceramics.
An iterative method to treat the inverse problem of detecting cracks and voids in piezoelectric structures is proposed. Extended finite element method (XFEM) is employed for solving the inverse problem as it allows the use of a single regular mesh for large number of iterations with different flaw geometries.
Firstly, minimization of cost function is performed by Multilevel Coordinate Search (MCS) method. The XFEM-MCS methodology is applied to two dimensional electromechanical problems where flaws considered are straight cracks and elliptical voids. Then a numerical method based on combination of classical shape derivative and level set method for front propagation used in structural optimization is utilized to minimize the cost function. The results obtained show that the XFEM-level set methodology is effectively able to determine the number of voids in a piezoelectric structure and its corresponding locations.
The XFEM-level set methodology is improved to solve the inverse problem of detecting inclusion interfaces in a piezoelectric structure. The material interfaces are implicitly represented by level sets which are identified by applying regularisation using total variation penalty terms. The formulation is presented for three dimensional structures and inclusions made of different materials are detected by using multiple level sets. The results obtained prove that the iterative procedure proposed can determine the location and approximate shape of material subdomains in the presence of higher noise levels.
Piezoelectric nanostructures exhibit size dependent properties because of surface elasticity and surface piezoelectricity. Initially a study to understand the influence of surface elasticity on optimization of nano elastic beams is performed. The boundary of the nano structure is implicitly represented by a level set function, which is considered as the design variable in the optimization process. Two objective functions, minimizing the total potential energy of a nanostructure subjected to a material volume constraint and minimizing the least square error compared to a target
displacement, are chosen for the numerical examples. The numerical examples demonstrate the importance of size and aspect ratio in determining how surface effects impact the optimized topology of nanobeams.
Finally a conventional cantilever energy harvester with a piezoelectric nano layer is analysed. The presence of surface piezoelectricity in nano beams and nano plates leads to increase in electromechanical coupling coefficient. Topology optimization of these piezoelectric structures in an energy harvesting device to further increase energy conversion using appropriately modified XFEM-level set algorithm is performed .

Briefly, the two basic questions that this research is supposed to answer are:
1. Howmuch fiber is needed and how fibers should be distributed through a fiber reinforced composite (FRC) structure in order to obtain the optimal and reliable structural response?
2. How do uncertainties influence the optimization results and reliability of the structure?
Giving answer to the above questions a double stage sequential optimization algorithm for finding the optimal content of short fiber reinforcements and their distribution in the composite structure, considering uncertain design parameters, is presented. In the first stage, the optimal amount of short fibers in a FRC structure with uniformly distributed fibers is conducted in the framework of a Reliability Based Design Optimization (RBDO) problem. Presented model considers material, structural and modeling uncertainties. In the second stage, the fiber distribution optimization (with the aim to further increase in structural reliability) is performed by defining a fiber distribution function through a Non-Uniform Rational BSpline (NURBS) surface. The advantages of using the NURBS surface as a fiber distribution function include: using the same data set for the optimization and analysis; high convergence rate due to the smoothness of the NURBS; mesh independency of the optimal layout; no need for any post processing technique and its non-heuristic nature. The output of stage 1 (the optimal fiber content for homogeneously distributed fibers) is considered as the input of stage 2. The output of stage 2 is the Reliability Index (b ) of the structure with the optimal fiber content and distribution.
First order reliability method (in order to approximate the limit state function) as well as different material models including Rule of Mixtures, Mori-Tanaka, energy-based approach and stochastic multi-scales are implemented in different examples. The proposed combined model is able to capture the role of available uncertainties in FRC structures through a computationally efficient algorithm using all sequential, NURBS and sensitivity based techniques. The methodology is successfully implemented for interfacial shear stress optimization in sandwich beams and also for optimization of the internal cooling channels in a ceramic matrix composite.
Finally, after some changes and modifications by combining Isogeometric Analysis, level set and point wise density mapping techniques, the computational framework is extended for topology optimization of piezoelectric / flexoelectric materials.

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.

The nonlinear behavior of concrete can be attributed to the propagation of microcracks within the heterogeneous internal material structure. In this thesis, a mesoscale model is developed which allows for the explicit simulation of these microcracks. Consequently, the actual physical phenomena causing the complex nonlinear macroscopic behavior of concrete can be represented using rather simple material formulations. On the mesoscale, the numerical model explicitly resolves the components of the internal material structure. For concrete, a three-phase model consisting of aggregates, mortar matrix and interfacial transition zone is proposed. Based on prescribed grading curves, an efficient algorithm for the generation of three-dimensional aggregate distributions using ellipsoids is presented. In the numerical model, tensile failure of the mortar matrix is described using a continuum damage approach. In order to reduce spurious mesh sensitivities, introduced by the softening behavior of the matrix material, nonlocal integral-type material formulations are applied. The propagation of cracks at the interface between aggregates and mortar matrix is represented in a discrete way using a cohesive crack approach. The iterative solution procedure is stabilized using a new path following constraint within the framework of load-displacement-constraint methods which allows for an efficient representation of snap-back phenomena. In several examples, the influence of the randomly generated heterogeneous material structure on the stochastic scatter of the results is analyzed. Furthermore, the ability of mesoscale models to represent size effects is investigated. Mesoscale simulations require the discretization of the internal material structure. Compared to simulations on the macroscale, the numerical effort and the memory demand increases dramatically. Due to the complexity of the numerical model, mesoscale simulations are, in general, limited to small specimens. In this thesis, an adaptive heterogeneous multiscale approach is presented which allows for the incorporation of mesoscale models within nonlinear simulations of concrete structures. In heterogeneous multiscale models, only critical regions, i.e. regions in which damage develops, are resolved on the mesoscale, whereas undamaged or sparsely damage regions are modeled on the macroscale. A crucial point in simulations with heterogeneous multiscale models is the coupling of sub-domains discretized on different length scales. The sub-domains differ not only in the size of the finite elements but also in the constitutive description. In this thesis, different methods for the coupling of non-matching discretizations - constraint equations, the mortar method and the arlequin method - are investigated and the application to heterogeneous multiscale models is presented. Another important point is the detection of critical regions. An adaptive solution procedure allowing the transfer of macroscale sub-domains to the mesoscale is proposed. In this context, several indicators which trigger the model adaptation are introduced. Finally, the application of the proposed adaptive heterogeneous multiscale approach in nonlinear simulations of concrete structures is presented.

The importance of modern simulation methods in the mechanical analysis of heterogeneous solids is presented in detail. Thereby the problem is noted that even for small bodies the required high-resolution analysis reaches the limits of today's computational power, in terms of memory demand as well as acceptable computational effort. A further problem is that frequently the accuracy of geometrical modelling of heterogeneous bodies is inadequate. The present work introduces a systematic combination and adaption of grid-based methods for achieving an essentially higher resolution in the numerical analysis of heterogeneous solids. Grid-based methods are as well primely suited for developing efficient and numerically stable algorithms for flexible geometrical modeling. A key aspect is the uniform data management for a grid, which can be utilized to reduce the effort and complexity of almost all concerned methods. A new finite element program, called Mulgrido, was just developed to realize this concept consistently and to test the proposed methods. Several disadvantages which generally result from grid discretizations are selectively corrected by modified methods. The present work is structured into a geometrical model, a mechanical model and a numerical model. The geometrical model includes digital image-based modeling and in particular several methods for the theory-based generation of inclusion-matrix models. Essential contributions refer to variable shape, size distribution, separation checks and placement procedures of inclusions. The mechanical model prepares the fundamentals of continuum mechanics, homogenization and damage modeling for the following numerical methods. The first topic of the numerical model introduces to a special version of B-spline finite elements. These finite elements are entirely variable in the order k of B-splines. For homogeneous bodies this means that the approximation quality can arbitrarily be scaled. In addition, the multiphase finite element concept in combination with transition zones along material interfaces yields a valuable solution for heterogeneous bodies. As the formulation is element-based, the storage of a global stiffness matrix is superseded such that the memory demand can essentially be reduced. This is possible in combination with iterative solver methods which represent the second topic of the numerical model. Here, the focus lies on multigrid methods where the number of required operations to solve a linear equation system only increases linearly with problem size. Moreover, for badly conditioned problems quite an essential improvement is achieved by preconditioning. The third part of the numerical model discusses certain aspects of damage simulation which are closely related to the proposed grid discretization. The strong efficiency of the linear analysis can be maintained for damage simulation. This is achieved by a damage-controlled sequentially linear iteration scheme. Finally a study on the effective material behavior of heterogeneous bodies is presented. Especially the influence of inclusion shapes is examined. By means of altogether more than one hundred thousand random geometrical arrangements, the effective material behavior is statistically analyzed and assessed.

In der täglichen Ingenieurpraxis werden in zunehmenden Maße numerische Analysen im Rahmen der Finite-Elemente-Methode auch zur Untersuchung stabilitätsgefährdeter Strukturen eingesetzt. Für die aktuelle Praxis, insbesondere im konstruktiven Stahlbau, ist jedoch festzustellen, dass zwischen der fortgeschrittenen Theorie und dem Niveau der praktischen Anwendung numerischer Stabilitätsanalysen eine große Kluft besteht. Aus praktischer Sicht erscheint es unumgänglich, die weiter wachsende Diskrepanz zwischen den umfangreichen theoretischen Möglichkeiten und der gegenwärtigen Praxis abzubauen. Damit steht der praktisch tätige Ingenieur vor der Aufgabe, sein Wissen auf dem Gebiet numerischer Stabilitätsanalysen zu vertiefen und bereits vorhandene FE-Programme um Berechnungsalgorithmen für umfassende numerische Stabilitätsanalysen zu erweitern. Dafür werden in der Arbeit die Grundlagen einer FEM- orientierten modernen Stabilitätstheorie einheitlich und aus Sicht einer praktischen Anwendung aufbereitet. Die Darstellung von realisierten programmtechnischen Umsetzungen für erweiterte Analysenmethoden wie Nachbeulanalysen, Pfadwechsel und Approximationen imperfekter Pfade ermöglicht eine Erweiterung des Methodenvorrates. Die innerhalb der Arbeit untersuchten Beispiele zeigen, dass durch die Anwendung der behandelten Verfahren das Tragverhalten einer stabilitätsgefährdeten Struktur wesentlich besser eingeschätzt werden kann als bei Beschränkung auf die herkömmlichen Analysemethoden.

Die vorliegende Arbeit beschäftigt sich mit der Berechnung der Sicherheit von Strukturen mit sowohl geometrisch als auch physikalisch nichtlinearem Verhalten. Die Berechnung der Versagenswahrscheinlichkeit einer Struktur mit Hilfe von Monte-Carlo-Simulationsmethoden erfordert, dass die Funktion der Strukturantwort implizit berechnet wird, zum Beispiel durch nichtlineare Strukturanalysen für jede Realisation der Zufallsvariablen. Die Strukturanalysen bilden jedoch den Hauptanteil am Berechnungsaufwand der Zuverlässigkeitsanalyse, so dass die Analyse von realistischen Strukturen mit nichtlinearem Verhalten durch die begrenzten Computer-Ressourcen stark eingeschränkt ist. Die klassischen Antwortflächenverfahren approximieren die Funktion der Strukturantwort oder aber die Grenzzustandsfunktion durch Polynome niedriger Ordnung. Dadurch ist für die Auswertung des Versagens-Kriteriums nur noch von Interesse, ob eine Realisation der Basisvariablen innerhalb oder außerhalb des von der Antwortflächenfunktion gebildeten Raumes liegt - die Strukturanalyse kann dann entfallen. Bei stark nichtlinearen Grenzzustandsfunktionen versagt die polynomiale Approximation. Das directional sampling neigt bei Problemen mit vielen Zufallsvariablen zu einem systematischen Fehler. Das adaptive importance directional sampling dagegen beseitigt diesen Fehler, verschenkt jedoch Informationen über den Verlauf der Grenzzustandsfunktion, da die aufgefundenen Stützstellen aus den vorangegangenen Simulationsläufen nicht berücksichtigt werden können. Aus diesem Grund erscheint eine Kombination beider Simulationsverfahren und eine Interpolation mittels einer Antwortfläche geeignet, diese Probleme zu lösen. Dies war die Motivation für die Entwicklung eines Verfahren der adaptiven Simulation der Einheitsvektoren und anschließender Interpolation der Grenzzustandsfunktion durch eine Antwortflächenfunktion. Dieses Vorgehen stellt besondere Anforderungen an die Antwortflächenfunktion. Diese muss flexibel genug sein, um stark nichtlineare Grenzzustandsfunktionen beliebig genau annähern zu können. Außerdem sollte die Anzahl der verarbeitbaren Stützstellen nicht begrenzt sein. Auch ist zu berücksichtigen, dass die Ermittlung der Stützstellen auf der Grenzzustandsfunktion nicht regelmäßig erfolgt. Die in dieser Arbeit entwickelten Methoden der lokalen Interpolation der Grenzzustandsfunktion durch Normalen-Hyperebenen bzw. sekantialen Hyperebenen und der sowohl lokalen als auch globalen Interpolation durch gewichtete Radien erfüllen diese Anforderungen. ungen. dieser Arbeit entwickelten Methoden der lokalen Interpolation der Grenzzustandsfunktion durch Normalen-Hyperebenen bzw. sekantialen Hyperebenen und der sowohl lokalen als auch globalen Interpolation durch gewichtete Radien erfüllen diese Anforderungen.