Strain gradients and continuum modeling of size effect in metal matrix composites

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Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Constitutive modeling for the particle size effect on the strength of particulate-reinforced metal matrix composites is investigated. The approach is based on a gradient-dependent theory of plasticity that incorporates strain gradients into the expression of the flow stress of matrix materials, and a finite unit cell technique that is used to calculate the overall flow properties of composites. It is shown that the strain gradient term introduces a spatial length scale in the constitutive equations for composites, and the dependence of the flow stress on the particle size/spacing can be obtained. Moreover, a nondimensional analysis along with the numerical result yields an explicit relation for the strain gradient coefficient in terms of particle size, strain, and yield stress. Typical results for aluminum matrix composites with ellipsoidal particles are calculated and compare well with data measured experimentally.

Publication Title

Acta Mechanica