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Section: Research Program

Discrete modeling of slender elastic structures

For the last 15 years, we have investigated new discrete models for solving the Kirchhoff dynamic equations for thin elastic rods  [10], [12], [15]. All our models share a curvature-based spatial discretization, allowing them to capture inextensibility of the rod intrinsically, without the need for adding any kinematic constraint. Moreover, elastic forces boil down to linear terms in the dynamic equations, making them well-suited for implicit integration. Interestingly, our discretization methodology can be interpreted from two different points-of-views. From the finite-elements point-of-view, our strain-based discrete schemes can be seen as discontinuous Galerkin methods of zero and first orders. From the multibody system dynamics point of view, our discrete models can be interpreted as deformable Lagrangian systems in finite dimension, for which a dedicated community has started to grow recently  [37]. We note that adopting the multibody system dynamics point of view helped us formulate a linear-time integration scheme  [11], which had only be investigated in the case of multibody rigid bodies dynamics so far.

High-order spatial discretization schemes for rods, ribbons and shells

Our goal is to investigate similar high-order modeling strategies for surfaces, in particular for the case of inextensible ribbons and shells. Elastic ribbons have been scarcely studied in the past, but they are nowadays drawing more and more the attention from physicists  [25], [34]. Their numerical modeling remains an open challenge. In contrast to ribbons, a huge litterature exists for shells, both from a theoretical and numerical viewpoints (see, e.g., [29], [16]). However, no real consensus has been obtained so far about a unified nonlinear shell theory able to support large displacements. In  [13] we have started building an inextensible shell patch by taking as degrees of freedom the curvatures of its mid-surface, expressed in the local frame. As in the super-helix model, we show that when taking curvatures uniform over the element, each term of the equations of motion may be computed in closed-form; besides, the geometry of the element corresponds to a cylinder patch at each time step. Compared to the 1D (rod) case however, some difficulties arise in the 2D (plate/shell) case, where compatibility conditions are to be treated carefully.

Numerical continuation of rod equilibria in the presence of unilateral constraints

In Alejandro Blumentals' PhD thesis  [14], we have adopted an optimal control point of view on the static problem of thin elastic rods, and we have shown that direct discretization methods (Within this optimal control framework, our previous curvature-based methods can actually be interpreted as a special case of direct single shooting methods.) are particularly well-suited for dealing with scenarios involving both bilateral and unilateral constraints (such as contact). We would like to investigate how our formulations extend to continuation problems, where the goal is to follow a certain branch of equilibria when the rod is subject to some varying constraints (such as one fixed end being applied a constant rotation). To the best of our knowledge, classical continuation methods used for rods  [26] are not able to deal with non-persistent or sliding contact.