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Published August 22, 2014 | Published
Journal Article Open

Dynamics of periodic mechanical structures containing bistable elastic elements: From elastic to solitary wave propagation


We investigate the nonlinear dynamics of a periodic chain of bistable elements consisting of masses connected by elastic springs whose constraint arrangement gives rise to a large-deformation snap-through instability. We show that the resulting negative-stiffness effect produces three different regimes of (linear and nonlinear) wave propagation in the periodic medium, depending on the wave amplitude. At small amplitudes, linear elastic waves experience dispersion that is controllable by the geometry and by the level of precompression. At moderate to large amplitudes, solitary waves arise in the weakly and strongly nonlinear regime. For each case, we present closed-form analytical solutions and we confirm our theoretical findings by specific numerical examples. The precompression reveals a class of wave propagation for a partially positive and negative potential. The presented results highlight opportunities in the design of mechanical metamaterials based on negative-stiffness elements, which go beyond current concepts primarily based on linear elastic wave propagation. Our findings shed light on the rich effective dynamics achievable by nonlinear small-scale instabilities in solids and structures.

Additional Information

© 2014 American Physical Society. Received 5 January 2014; published 22 August 2014. The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant No. CMMI-1200319. D.M.K. acknowledges support from the NSF through CAREER Award No. CMMI-1254424.

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Published - PhysRevE.90.023204.pdf


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