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The phenomenon of aerodynamic instability caused by the wind is usually a major design criterion for long-span cable-supported bridges. If the wind speed exceeds the critical flutter speed of the bridge, this constitutes an Ultimate Limit State. The prediction of the flutter boundary, therefore, requires accurate and robust models. The complexity and uncertainty of models for such engineering problems demand strategies for model assessment. This study is an attempt to use the concepts of sensitivity and uncertainty analyses to assess the aeroelastic instability prediction models for long-span bridges. The state-of-the-art theory concerning the determination of the flutter stability limit is presented. Since flutter is a coupling of aerodynamic forcing with a structural dynamics problem, different types and classes of structural and aerodynamic models can be combined to study the interaction. Here, both numerical approaches and analytical models are utilised and coupled in different ways to assess the prediction quality of the coupled model.

The key objective of this research is to study fracture with a meshfree method, local maximum entropy approximations, and model fracture in thin shell structures with complex geometry and topology. This topic is of high relevance for real-world applications, for example in the automotive industry and in aerospace engineering. The shell structure can be described efficiently by meshless methods which are capable of describing complex shapes as a collection of points instead of a structured mesh. In order to find the appropriate numerical method to achieve this goal, the first part of the work was development of a method based on local maximum entropy (LME)
shape functions together with enrichment functions used in partition of unity methods to discretize problems in linear elastic fracture mechanics. We obtain improved accuracy relative to the standard extended finite element method (XFEM) at a comparable computational cost. In addition, we keep the advantages of the LME shape functions,such as smoothness and non-negativity. We show numerically that optimal convergence (same as in FEM) for energy norm and stress intensity factors can be obtained through the use of geometric (fixed area) enrichment with no special treatment of the nodes
near the crack such as blending or shifting.
As extension of this method to three dimensional problems and complex thin shell structures with arbitrary crack growth is cumbersome, we developed a phase field model for fracture using LME. Phase field models provide a powerful tool to tackle moving interface problems, and have been extensively used in physics and materials science. Phase methods are gaining popularity in a wide set of applications in applied science and engineering, recently a second order phase field approximation for brittle fracture has gathered significant interest in computational fracture such that sharp cracks discontinuities are modeled by a diffusive crack. By minimizing the system energy with respect to the mechanical displacements and the phase-field, subject to an irreversibility condition to avoid crack healing, this model can describe crack nucleation, propagation, branching and merging. One of the main advantages of the phase field modeling of fractures is the unified treatment of the interfacial tracking and mechanics, which potentially leads to simple, robust, scalable computer codes applicable to complex systems. In other words, this approximation reduces considerably the implementation complexity because the numerical tracking of the fracture is not needed, at the expense of a high computational cost. We present a fourth-order phase field model for fracture based on local maximum entropy (LME) approximations. The higher order continuity of the meshfree LME approximation allows to directly solve the fourth-order phase field equations without splitting the fourth-order differential equation into two second order differential equations. Notably, in contrast to previous discretizations that use at least a quadratic basis, only linear completeness is needed in the LME approximation. We show that the crack surface can be captured more accurately in the fourth-order model than the second-order model. Furthermore, less nodes are needed for the fourth-order model to resolve the crack path. Finally, we demonstrate the performance of the proposed meshfree fourth order phase-field formulation for 5 representative numerical examples. Computational results will be compared to analytical solutions within linear elastic fracture mechanics and experimental data for three-dimensional crack propagation.
In the last part of this research, we present a phase-field model for fracture in Kirchoff-Love thin shells using the local maximum-entropy (LME) meshfree method. Since the crack is a natural outcome of the analysis it does not require an explicit representation and tracking, which is advantageous over techniques as the extended finite element method that requires tracking of the crack paths. The geometric description of the shell is based on statistical learning techniques that allow dealing with general point set surfaces avoiding a global parametrization, which can be applied to tackle surfaces of complex geometry and topology. We show the flexibility and robustness of the present methodology for two examples: plate in tension and a set of open connected
pipes.

The current study attempts to recognise an adequate classification for a semi-rigid beam-to-column connection by investigating strength, stiffness and ductility. For this purpose, an experimental test was carried out to investigate the moment-rotation (M-theta) features of flush end-plate (FEP) connections including variable parameters like size and number of bolts, thickness of end-plate, and finally, size of beams and columns. The initial elastic stiffness and ultimate moment capacity of connections were determined by an extensive analytical procedure from the proposed method prescribed by ANSI/AISC 360-10, and Eurocode 3 Part 1-8 specifications. The behaviour of beams with partially restrained or semi-rigid connections were also studied by incorporating classical analysis methods. The results confirmed that thickness of the column flange and end-plate substantially govern over the initial rotational stiffness of of flush end-plate connections. The results also clearly showed that EC3 provided a more reliable classification index for flush end-plate (FEP) connections. The findings from this study make significant contributions to the current literature as the actual response characteristics of such connections are non-linear. Therefore, such semirigid behaviour should be used to for an analysis and design method.

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.

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 .