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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.

This paper presents a novel numerical procedure based on the combination of an edge-based smoothed finite element (ES-FEM) with a phantom-node method for 2D linear elastic fracture mechanics. In the standard phantom-node method, the cracks are formulated by adding phantom nodes, and the cracked element is replaced by two new superimposed elements. This approach is quite simple to implement into existing explicit finite element programs. The shape functions associated with discontinuous elements are similar to those of the standard finite elements, which leads to certain simplification with implementing in the existing codes. The phantom-node method allows modeling discontinuities at an arbitrary location in the mesh. The ES-FEM model owns a close-to-exact stiffness that is much softer than lower-order finite element methods (FEM). Taking advantage of both the ES-FEM and the phantom-node method, we introduce an edge-based strain smoothing technique for the phantom-node method. Numerical results show that the proposed method achieves high accuracy compared with the extended finite element method (XFEM) and other reference solutions.

A simple multiscale analysis framework for heterogeneous solids based on a computational homogenization technique is presented. The macroscopic strain is linked kinematically to the boundary displacement of a circular or spherical representative volume which contains the microscopic information of the material. The macroscopic stress is obtained from the energy principle between the macroscopic scale and the microscopic scale. This new method is applied to several standard examples to show its accuracy and consistency of the method proposed.

We conducted extensive molecular dynamics simulations to investigate the thermal conductivity of polycrystalline hexagonal boron-nitride (h-BN) films. To this aim, we constructed large atomistic models of polycrystalline h-BN sheets with random and uniform grain configuration. By performing equilibrium molecular dynamics (EMD) simulations, we investigated the influence of the average grain size on the thermal conductivity of polycrystalline h-BN films at various temperatures. Using the EMD results, we constructed finite element models of polycrystalline h-BN sheets to probe the thermal conductivity of samples with larger grain sizes. Our multiscale investigations not only provide a general viewpoint regarding the heat conduction in h-BN films but also propose that polycrystalline h-BN sheets present high thermal conductivity comparable to monocrystalline sheets.

The point collocation method of finite spheres (PCMFS) is used to model the hyperelastic response of soft biological tissue in real time within the framework of virtual surgery simulation. The proper orthogonal decomposition (POD) model order reduction (MOR) technique was used to achieve reduced-order model of the problem, minimizing computational cost. The PCMFS is a physics-based meshfree numerical technique for real-time simulation of surgical procedures where the approximation functions are applied directly on the strong form of the boundary value problem without the need for integration, increasing computational efficiency. Since computational speed has a significant role in simulation of surgical procedures, the proposed technique was able to model realistic nonlinear behavior of organs in real time. Numerical results are shown to demonstrate the effectiveness of the new methodology through a comparison between full and reduced analyses for several nonlinear problems. It is shown that the proposed technique was able to achieve good agreement with the full model; moreover, the computational and data storage costs were significantly reduced.

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.