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Title:  Mechanical response of polyether polyurethane foams under multiaxial stress and the initial yielding of ultrathin films 
Author(s):  Dai, Xiangyu 
Director of Research:  Gioia, Gustavo 
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):  Gioia, Gustavo 
Doctoral Committee Member(s):  Sottos, Nancy R.; Phillips, James W.; Wagoner Johnson, Amy J. 
Department / Program:  Mechanical Sci & Engineering 
Discipline:  Theoretical & Applied Mechans 
Degree Granting Institution:  University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign 
Degree:  Ph.D. 
Genre:  Dissertation 
Subject(s):  Polyther Polyurethane FOAMS
Multiaxial Stress Initial yielding Ultrathin Films Phase Transition Snapthrough Buckling Critical Exponents Meanfield Model Nonconvex Strain Energy Function Digital Image Correlation Punching Selfsimilar Surface Stress 
Abstract:  In the first part of this thesis, we study the mechanical response of elastic polyether polyurethane (EPP) foams by means of experiments, theory, and modeling. The experiments include five loading cases: uniaxial compression along the rise direction; uniaxial compression along two mutually perpendicular transverse directions; uniaxial tension along the rise direction; shear combined with compression along the rise direction; and hydrostatic pressure combined with compression along the rise direction. We use a commercial series of five EPP foams of apparent densities (mass per unit volume of foam) 50.3, 63.0, 77.0, 162.9 and 220:5 kg/m3. We perform a test for each foam in the series and each loading case. In every test we measure the mechanical response in the form of a stressstrain curve or a forcedisplacement curve; in several tests we use a Digital Image Correlation (DIC) technique to compute the strain fields on the surface of the specimen. For some loading cases, including uniaxial compression along the rise direction, the mechanical response of the three foams of lower density exhibits a stress plateau. This stress plateau has been commonly interpreted as a manifestation of a bifurcation of equilibrium (Euler buckling of the microstruture of the foam), a global phenomenon that encompasses the entire microstructure of the foam at once. In this interpretation, the plateau stress (i.e., the value of stress on the stress plateau) is the eigenvalue associated with the bifurcation of equilibrium. Nevertheless, our experimental results indicate that a stress plateau is invariably accompanied by heterogeneous, twophase strain fields, consistent with the occurrence of a configurational phase transition. Thus we argue that the plateau stress is the Maxwell stress associated with the attainment of a limit point (snapthrough buckling of a cell of the foam), a local phenomenon which progressively sweeps through the microstructure of the foam. For other loading cases, including uniaxial compression along a transverse direction, the mechanical response does not exhibit a stress plateau, and the stressstrain curves harden monotonically regardless of the density of the foam. The strain fields remain homogeneous, even for the least dense foam. We use our experimental results to calibrate a meanfield model of EPP foams. In this model, a unit cell composed of several bars is cut off from an idealized, perfectly periodic foam microstrusture. The tips of the bars of the cell are subjected to a set of displacements affine with the applied mean deformation gradient, and left to rotate freely. The unit cell is characterized using a few physically meaningful material and geometric parameters whose values may be readily estimated for any given foam. We verify that under uniaxial loading the model predicts configurational phase transitions, stress plateaus, and twophase fields for lowdensity foams; a critical point for foams of a critical density; and monotonically hardening stressstrain curves for foams of density higher than the critical density. The critical exponents associated with the critical point are the same as in other meanfield models such as the Van der Walls model of a fluid. With a suitable choice of parameters, the model gives predictions that compare favorably with our experimental results for all loading cases. In particular, the model gives a nonconvex strain energy function where (and only where) the experiments exhibit a stress plateau and twophase strain fields. We conclude that the mechanical response of EPP foams is dominated at large strains by either one of two mechanisms at the level of a foam cell: snapthrough buckling, which leads to nonconvex strain energy functions, stress plateaus, and twophase strain fields; or bending, which leads to convex strain energy functions, monotonically increasing stresses, and homogeneous strain fields. This conclusion allows us to interpret an extensive series of experiments in which EPP foam specimens are penetrated with a wedgeshaped punch. For lowdensity foams, we find experimentally that the mechanical response is linear up to a penetration of the punch of about 40% of the height of the specimen. We surmise that the strain field in the specimen consists of a highstrain phase in a region close to the tip, where a phase transition has taken place, and a lowstrain phase in a region far from the tip, where the phase transition is yet to take place. The two regions are separated by a sharp interface, where the strain is discontinuous. We use DIC to trace the sharp interface as it grows and sweeps through the specimen during a test. By studying theoretically the selfsimilar growth of a sharp interface, we predict a linear response within the selfsimilar regime, in accord with our experimental findings. We then apply the same theory to the case of a conical punch, predict a quadratic response within the selfsimilar regime, and verify our prediction by performing experiments with a conical punch. We conclude that in the selfsimilar regime the mechanical response is ruled entirely by geometry and depends only on the dimensionality of the punch and the plateau stress of the lowdensity foam. In the second part of this thesis, we study the initial yielding of ultrathin metallic films (thickness of a fraction of a micrometer). Recent experiments indicate that in freestanding metallic films of constant grain size the initial yield stress increases as the film becomes thinner, it peaks for a thickness on the order of 100 nm, and then starts to decrease. This reversing (first hardening, then softening) size effect poses two challenges: (1) It cannot be explained using currently available models and (2) it appears to contradict the littleknown but remarkable experimental results of J. W. Beams [1959], in which the size effect in bulge tests did not reverse even for a thickness of 20 nm. We show that the reversing size effect can be explained and the contradiction dispelled by taking into account the effect of the surface stress on the initial yielding. We also predict that the mode of failure of a film changes from ductile to brittle for a thickness on the order of 100 nm, in accord with experiments. Our successful application of methods of continuum mechanics to films as thin as 100 times a typical lattice parameter adds to a growing realization of the robustness of these methods at ultrasmall length scales. 
Issue Date:  20100519 
URI:  http://hdl.handle.net/2142/16023 
Rights Information:  Copyright 2010 Xiangyu Dai 
Date Available in IDEALS:  20100519 
Date Deposited:  May 2010 
This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Graduate Dissertations and Theses at Illinois
Graduate Theses and Dissertations at Illinois 
Dissertations and Theses  Mechanical Science and Engineering