Three-Dimensional Mechanics of Microcellular Solids Using Scanning Confocal Microscopy
Cellular solids are materials comprised of an interconnected network of solid ligaments or plates which form the edges and walls of cells . These types of materials are often considered in engineering applications because of their unique properties relative to their fully-dense counterparts, including elastic moduli, specific strength, and thermal conductivity . Classical cellular mechanics models, such as the Gibson-Ashby model, have been extensively used to describe the mechanical response and idealize the behavior of foam-like materials by modeling unit-cell level deformation. Scaling equations provided by such mechanics formulations allow for comparison between theory and experiment through readily measurable quantities such as relative density. These mechanics models are applied to cell sizes on the order of several micrometers or larger, and often to materials with random cell structures in the absence of a complete understanding of the mechanics governing local deformation. Direct experimental characterization of unit-cell level deformation has been scarce and generally limited to either two-dimensional or post-mortem analyses. Extensions to micro- and nanostructured systems are further complicated by size-dependent mechanical behavior where the constitutive response of the ligament material is not always known a priori.
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