Variational modeling of microstructures in plasticity
The analysis and simulation of microstructures in solids has gained crucial importance, virtue of the influence of all microstructural characteristics on a material’s macroscopic, mechanical behavior. In particular, the arrangement of dislocations and other lattice defects to particular structures and patterns on the microscale as well as the resultant inhomogeneous distribution of localized strain results in a highly altered stress-strain response. Energetic models predicting the mechanical properties are commonly based on thermodynamic variational principles. Modeling the material response in finite-strain crystal plasticity very often results in a nonconvex variational problem so that the minimizing deformation fields are no longer continuous but exhibit small-scale fluctuations related to probability distributions of deformation gradients to be calculated via energy relaxation. This results in fine structures which can be interpreted as the observed microstructures.
This manuscript is supposed to give an overview of the available methods and results in this field. We start by discussing the underlying variational principles for inelastic materials, derive evolution equations for internal variables, and introduce the concept of condensed energy. As a mathematical prerequisite we review the variational calculus of nonconvex potentials and the notion of relaxation. We use these instruments in order to study the initiation of plastic microstructures. Here we focus on a model of single-slip crystal plasticity. Afterward we move on to model the evolution of microstructures. We introduce the concept of essential microstructures and the corresponding relaxed energies and dissipation potentials, and derive evolution equations for microstructure parameters. We then present a numerical scheme by means of which the microstructure development can be computed, and show numerical results for particular examples in single- and double-slip plasticity. We discuss the influence of hardening and of slip system orientations in the present model.
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