Optimization of Composite Fracture Properties: Method, Validation, and Applications

Grace X. Gu, Leon Dimas, Zhao Qin, Markus J. Buehler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


A paradigm in nature is to architect composites with excellent material properties compared to its constituents, which themselves often have contrasting mechanical behavior. Most engineering materials sacrifice strength for toughness, whereas natural materials do not face this tradeoff. However, biology's designs, adapted for organism survival, may have features not needed for some engineering applications. Here, we postulate that mimicking nature's elegant use of multimaterial phases can lead to better optimization of engineered materials. We employ an optimization algorithm to explore and design composites using soft and stiff building blocks to study the underlying mechanisms of nature's tough materials. For different applications, optimization parameters may vary. Validation of the algorithm is carried out using a test suite of cases without cracks to optimize for stiffness and compliance individually. A test case with a crack is also performed to optimize for toughness. The validation shows excellent agreement between geometries obtained from the optimization algorithm and the brute force method. This study uses different objective functions to optimize toughness, stiffness and toughness, and compliance and toughness. The algorithm presented here can provide researchers a way to tune material properties for a vast number of engineering problems by adjusting the distribution of soft and stiff materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number071006
JournalJournal of Applied Mechanics, Transactions ASME
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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