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Mechanics of a discrete chain with bi-stable elements. (English) Zbl 0973.74060
Summary: It has become common to model materials supporting several crystallographic phases as elastic continua with non (quasi) convex energy. This peculiar property of the energy originates from the multi-stability of the system at the microlevel associated with the possibility of several energetically equivalent arrangements of atoms in crystal lattices. In this paper we study the simplest prototypical discrete system – a one-dimensional chain with a finite number of bi-stable elastic elements.
Our main assumption is that the energy of a single spring has two convex wells separated by a spinodal region where the energy is concave. We neglect the interaction beyond nearest neighbors, and explore in some detail a complicated energy landscape for this mechanical system. In particular, we show that under generic loading the chain possesses a large number of metastable configurations which may contain up to one (snap) spring in the unstable (spinodal) state. As the loading parameters vary, the system undergoes a number of bifurcations, and we show that the type of bifurcation may depend crucially on the details of the concave (spinodal) part of the energy function. In special cases we obtain explicit formulas for the local and global minima, and provide a quantitative description of the possible quasi-static evolution paths and of the associated hysteresis.

74N30 Problems involving hysteresis in solids
74N05 Crystals in solids
74E15 Crystalline structure
82D25 Statistical mechanical studies of crystals
82B26 Phase transitions (general) in equilibrium statistical mechanics
Full Text: DOI
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