Simulating elasticity and failure of patterned soft materials

Push on a soft material, like a rubber tire or a gelatin pudding, and it will deform; Push even harder and it will break, simple as that. Now imagine a soft material that has regions where the material is soft and regions where the material is stiff. How will these materials deform and where will these materials break? Do you have a clue? In this Bsc/Msc project you will use finite element simulations to find this out!

How materials deform and when they break depends on physical processes at many length and time scales. The process starts at the molecular level, but soon, when the deformations become bigger and cracks start to form, rigidity fluctuations, the shape and the environment start to play a role. This allows us to influence and control the deformation and failure of a material by including different soft and stiff domains (at the millimetre scale).

In this project you will use a finite element simulation package called COMSOL, to explore the effect of introducing soft and stiff domains on the material properties. In a finite elements simulation you divide a big
object into many small elements. The response of the object to deformation is then calculated from the interactions between these smaller elements by solving a set of partial differential equations and boundary conditions. Two examples are shown in the figures.

Are you interested in this project? We would like to come in contact with you! Just send an e-mail to Justin Tauber or Sven Boots and we are happy to discuss the project with you.

Methods and techniques
- Continuum Mechanics
- Finite Element Analysis using COMSOL
- Data analysis using COMSOL/MATLAB/python