Nonlinear mechanics of composite materials
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Composite materials have been an area of active research in recent years due to the possibility of obtaining multifunctional structures. Viscoelastic layered composites with parallel plane layers consisting of a stiff constituent and a soft viscoelastic constituent are of particular interest as they have been shown to exhibit simultaneous high stiffness and high damping. Such materials would be useful in structural applications and in high vibration environments such as in a vehicle or machinery. They would provide the rigidity required while simultaneously dissipating mechanical energy. The finite deformation mechanics of parallel plane viscoelastic layered composites has not been extensively studied. Under compressive loads they are very susceptible to instabilities. Buckling, for example is an elastic instability seen in load bearing materials. Since viscoelastic materials are rate and time dependent, the buckling modes for these composites not only depend on these factors, but also on the volume fraction of the stiff constituent. Three different cases are identified in the buckling and post-buckling response of these composites: non-dilute (high volume fraction), transition (intermediate volume fraction) and dilute (small volume fraction) cases. Due to buckling from the application of prestrain, the stiffness and damping of these composites can be tuned by orders of magnitude. Adaptive and multifunctional materials can be designed taking advantage of this idea and the rate dependence of the modes of deformation.