The mission of this research group is to develop new models and computational tools for the micromechanics of materials, and to employ these to develop relationships between the internal structure of a material and its mechanical properties. We study material properties at a range of length scales, placing special emphasis on scale transitions. We cover a variety of engineering materials, considering and exploiting the similarities and differences in their behaviour.
Innovative design of high-performance mechanical components should make optimum use of the wealth of specially designed materials that are (becoming) available on the market. Modern materials derive their, sometimes fabulous, mechanical properties from their specific internal structure (microstructure). The essential link between materials science/engineering and mechanical engineering therefore relies on the quantitative relationship between the microstructure of a material and its mechanical properties. The development of such structure-property relationships is a multidisciplinary activity, with a strong bearing on solid mechanics concepts and methodologies as well as on characterisation techniques used in materials science. Micromechanics provides a powerful tool to determine such structure-property relationships and has gained much popularity during the last decade.
A micromechanical approach comprises three elements: (i) identification of the length scale(s) at which the relevant physical mechanisms are taking place; (ii) development of appropriate models of these mechanisms; (iii) prediction of the behaviour at a larger length scale. This length scale transition is typically carried out by numerical simulation techniques. Sometimes a number of such scale transitions are necessary to arrive at the macroscopic scale of the component.
Mechanical engineering makes use of a wide range of materials nowadays. Therefore this research programme does not focus on a specific material, but attempts to address the whole materials triangle, comprising metals, polymers and ceramics, as well as their composites. The coherence between the various subjects relies on the methodology.