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Published July 2009 | public
Journal Article

Dynamic stability analysis of an elastic composite material having a negative-stiffness phase


The rigorous classical bounds of elastic composite materials theory provide limits on the achievable composite stiffnesses in terms of the properties and arrangements of the composite's constituents. These bounds result from the assumption, presumably made for stability reasons, that each constituent material must have positive-definite elastic moduli. If this assumption is relaxed, recently published elasticity analyses and experimental measurements show these bounds can be greatly exceeded, resulting in new materials of enormous potential. The key question is whether a composite material having a non-positive-definite constituent can be stable overall in the practically useful situation of applied traction boundary conditions. Drugan 2007. Elastic composite materials having a negative-stiffness phase can be stable. Phys. Rev. Lett. 98 (5), article no. 055502 first proved the answer is yes, by applying the energy criterion of elastic stability to the basic two- and three-dimensional composites consisting of a cylinder or sphere having non-positive-definite (but strongly elliptic) moduli with a thin positive-definite coating and proving overall stability provided the coating is sufficiently stiff. Here, we perform a complete and direct dynamic stability analysis of the plane strain fundamental elastic composite consisting of a circular cylinder of non-positive-definite material firmly bonded to a positive-definite concentric coating, for the full range of coating thicknesses (i.e., volume fractions). We determine quantitatively the full permissible range of inclusion and coating moduli, as a function of coating thickness, for which the overall composite is stable under dead traction boundary conditions. Among the results, we show that in the thin-coating case, the present dynamic stability analysis leads to precisely the same analytical stability requirements as those derived via the energy criterion by Drugan 2007. Elastic composite materials having a negative-stiffness phase can be stable. Phys. Rev. Lett. 98 (5), article no. 055502, and we derive new analytical stability requirements that are valid for a wider range of coating thickness. At the other extreme, we show that in the case of very thick coatings (corresponding to the dilute case of a matrix-inclusion composite), even an inclusion with merely strongly elliptic moduli can be stabilized by a positive-definite matrix satisfying weak requirements, for which we derive analytical expressions. Overall, our results show that surprisingly weak restrictions on the moduli and thickness of the positive-definite coating are sufficient to stabilize a non-positive-definite inclusion, even one whose moduli are merely strongly elliptic. These results legitimize expanding the search for novel materials with extreme properties to those incorporating a non-positive-definite constituent, and they provide quantitative restrictions on the constituent materials' moduli and volume fractions, for the geometry examined here, that ensure overall stability of such composite materials.

Additional Information

© 2009 Elsevier. Received 17 September 2008. Revised 21 January 2009. Accepted 1 March 2009. Available online 14 March 2009. This research was supported by the National Science Foundation, Grant no. CMS-0136986. D.M. Kochmann acknowledges support from Ruhr-University Research School funded by Germany's Excellence Initiative (DFG GSC 98/1). We thank R.S. Lakes and F. Waleffe for helpful discussions.

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