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Advanced finite elements are proposed for the mechanical analysis of heterogeneous materials. The approximation quality of these finite elements can be controlled by a variable order of B-spline shape functions. An element-based formulation is developed such that the finite element problem can iteratively be solved without storing a global stiffness matrix. This memory saving allows for an essential increase of problem size. The heterogeneous material is modelled by projection onto a uniform, orthogonal grid of elements. Conventional, strictly grid-based finite element models show severe oscillating defects in the stress solutions at material interfaces. This problem is cured by the extension to multiphase finite elements. This concept enables to define a heterogeneous material distribution within the finite element. This is possible by a variable number of integration points to each of which individual material properties can be assigned. Based on an interpolation of material properties at nodes and further smooth interpolation within the finite elements, a continuous material function is established. With both, continuous B-spline shape function and continuous material function, also the stress solution will be continuous in the domain. The inaccuracy implied by the continuous material field is by far less defective than the prior oscillating behaviour of stresses. One- and two-dimensional numerical examples are presented.

A fast solver method called the multigrid preconditioned conjugate gradient method is proposed for the mechanical analysis of heterogeneous materials on the mesoscale. Even small samples of a heterogeneous material such as concrete show a complex geometry of different phases. These materials can be modelled by projection onto a uniform, orthogonal grid of elements. As one major problem the possible resolution of the concrete specimen is generally restricted due to (a) computation times and even more critical (b) memory demand. Iterative solvers can be based on a local element-based formulation while orthogonal grids consist of geometrical identical elements. The element-based formulation is short and transparent, and therefore efficient in implementation. A variation of the material properties in elements or integration points is possible. The multigrid method is a fast iterative solver method, where ideally the computational effort only increases linear with problem size. This is an optimal property which is almost reached in the implementation presented here. In fact no other method is known which scales better than linear. Therefore the multigrid method gains in importance the larger the problem becomes. But for heterogeneous models with very large ratios of Young's moduli the multigrid method considerably slows down by a constant factor. Such large ratios occur in certain heterogeneous solids, as well as in the damage analysis of solids. As solution to this problem the multigrid preconditioned conjugate gradient method is proposed. A benchmark highlights the multigrid preconditioned conjugate gradient method as the method of choice for very large ratio's of Young's modulus. A proposed modified multigrid cycle shows good results, in the application as stand-alone solver or as preconditioner.

The design and application of high performance materials demands extensive knowledge of the materials damage behavior, which significantly depends on the meso- and microstructural complexity. Numerical simulations of crack growth on multiple length scales are promising tools to understand the damage phenomena in complex materials. In polycrystalline materials it has been observed that the grain boundary decohesion is one important mechanism that leads to micro crack initiation. Following this observation the paper presents a polycrystal mesoscale model consisting of grains with orthotropic material behavior and cohesive interfaces along grain boundaries, which is able to reproduce the crack initiation and propagation along grain boundaries in polycrystalline materials. With respect to the importance of modeling the geometry of the grain structure an advanced Voronoi algorithm is proposed to generate realistic polycrystalline material structures based on measured grain size distribution. The polycrystal model is applied to investigate the crack initiation and propagation in statically loaded representative volume elements of aluminum on the mesoscale without the necessity of initial damage definition. Future research work is planned to include the mesoscale model into a multiscale model for the damage analysis in polycrystalline materials.

The extended finite element method (XFEM) offers an elegant tool to model material discontinuities and cracks within a regular mesh, so that the element edges do not necessarily coincide with the discontinuities. This allows the modeling of propagating cracks without the requirement to adapt the mesh incrementally. Using a regular mesh offers the advantage, that simple refinement strategies based on the quadtree data structure can be used to refine the mesh in regions, that require a high mesh density. An additional benefit of the XFEM is, that the transmission of cohesive forces through a crack can be modeled in a straightforward way without introducing additional interface elements. Finally different criteria for the determination of the crack propagation angle are investigated and applied to numerical tests of cracked concrete specimens, which are compared with experimental results.