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Energy minimization and the formation of microstructure in dynamic anti-plane shear

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We investigate the behavior of a continuum model designed to provide insight into the dynamical development of microstructures observed during displacive phase transformations in certain materials. The model is presented within the framework of nonlinear viscoelasticity and is also of interest as an example of a strongly dissipative infinite-dimensional dynamical system whose forward orbits need not lie on a finite-dimensional attracting set, and which can display a subtle dependence on initial conditions quite different from that of classical finite-dimensional “chaos”.

We study the problem of dynamical (two-dimensional) anti-plane shear with linear viscoelastic damping. Within the framework of nonlinear hyperelasticity, we consider both isotropic and anisotropic constitutive laws which can allow different phases and we characterize their ability to deliver minimizers and minimizing sequences of the stored elastic energy (Theorem 2.3). Using a transformation due to Rybka, we recast the problem as a semilinear degenerate parabolic system, thereby allowing the application of semigroup theory to establish existence, uniqueness and regularity of solutions in L pspaces (Theorem 3.1). We also discuss the issues of energy minimization and propagation of strain discontinuities. We comment on the difficulties encountered in trying to exploit the geometrical properties of specific constitutive laws. In particular, we are unable to obtain analogues of the absence of minimizers and of the non-propagation of strain discontinuities found by Ball, Holmes, James, Pego & Swart [1991] for a one-dimensional model problem.

Several numerical experiments are presented, which prompt the following conclusions. It appears that the absence of an absolute minimizer may prevent energy minimization, thereby providing a dynamical mechanism to limit the fineness of observed microstructure, as has been proved in the one-dimensional case. Similarly, viscoelastic damping appears to prevent the propagation of strain discontinuities. During the extremely slow development of fine structure, solutions are observed to display local refinement in an effort to overcome incompatibility with boundary and initial conditions, with the distribution and shape of the resulting finer scales displaying a subtle dependence on initial conditions.

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Swart, P.J., Holmes, P.J. Energy minimization and the formation of microstructure in dynamic anti-plane shear. Arch. Rational Mech. Anal. 121, 37–85 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00375439

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  • Energy Minimization
  • Parabolic System
  • Dynamical Mechanism
  • Absolute Minimizer
  • Semigroup Theory