Morphoelasticity, viscoelasticity and the evolution of strain

18 February 2010
Cameron Hall (OCCAM)
If an ideal elastic spring is greatly stretched, it will develop large stresses. However, solid biological tissues are able to grow without developing such large stresses. This is because the cells within such tissues are able to lay down new fibres and remove old ones, fundamentally changing the mechanical structure of the tissue. In many ways, this is analogous to classical plasticity, where materials stretched beyond their yield point begin to flow and the unloaded state of the material changes. Unfortunately, biological tissues are not closed systems and so we are not able to use standard plasticity techniques where we require the flow to be mass conserving and energetically passive. In this talk, a general framework will be presented for modelling the changing zero stress state of a biological tissue (or any other material). Working from the multiplicative decomposition of the deformation gradient, we show that the rate of 'desired' growth can represented using a tensor that describes both the total rate of growth and any directional biases. This can be used to give an evolution equation for the effective strain (a measure of the difference between the current state and the zero stress state). We conclude by looking at a perhaps surprising application for this theory as a method for deriving the constitutive laws of a viscoelastic fluid.
  • Differential Equations and Applications Seminar