21 August 2018
Multiscale Modeling and Simulation: A SIAM Interdisciplinary Journal
Using particle-scale models to accurately describe property enhancements and phase transitions in macroscopic behavior is a major engineering challenge in composite materials science. To address some of these challenges, we use the graph theoretic property of rigidity to model mechanical reinforcement in composites with stiff rod-like particles. We develop an efficient algorithmic approach called rigid graph compression (RGC) to describe the transition from floppy to rigid in disordered fiber networks (``rod-hinge systems''), which form the reinforcing phase in many composite systems. To establish RGC on a firm theoretical foundation, we adapt rigidity matroid theory to identify primitive topological network motifs that serve as rules for composing interacting rigid particles into larger rigid components. This approach is computationally efficient and stable, because RGC requires only topological information about rod interactions (encoded by a sparse unweighted network) rather than geometrical details such as rod locations or pairwise distances (as required in rigidity matroid theory). We conduct numerical experiments on simulated two-dimensional rod-hinge systems to demonstrate that RGC closely approximates the rigidity percolation threshold for such systems, through comparison with the pebble game algorithm (which is exact in two dimensions). Importantly, whereas the pebble game is derived from Laman's condition and is only valid in two dimensions, the RGC approach naturally extends to higher dimensions.
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