The Nature of Configurational Forces

  • Morton E. Gurtin


The standard forces associated with continua arise as a response to the motion of material points. That additional, configurational 1 forces may be needed to describe the internal structure of the material is clear from ESHELBY’S work on lattice defects2 and is at least intimated by GIBBS3 in his discussion of multiphase equilibria. These studies are statical, based on variational arguments, with the configurational forces defined as derivatives of the energy. I take a different point of view. Although variational derivations may point the way toward a correct statement of basic laws, such derivations obscure the fundamental nature of balance laws in any general framework that includes dissipation.While I am not in favor of the capricious introduction of “fundamental physical laws”, I do believe that configurational forces should be viewed as basic primitive objects consistent with their own force balance, rather than as variational constructs.4


Constitutive Equation Interfacial Energy Stefan Problem Outward Unit Eshelby Tensor 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

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  • Morton E. Gurtin

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