Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Document Type



This work, standing as an attempt to understand and mathematically model the small scale materials thermal and mechanical responses by the aid of Materials Science fundamentals, Continuum Solid Mechanics, Misro-scale experimental observations, and Numerical methods. Since conventional continuum plasticity and heat transfer theories, based on the local thermodynamic equilibrium, do not account for the microstructural characteristics of materials, they cannot be used to adequately address the observed mechanical and thermal response of the micro-scale metallic structures. Some of these cases, which are considered in this dissertation, include the dependency of thin films strength on the width of the sample and diffusive-ballistic response of temperature in the course of heat transfer. A thermodynamic-based higher order gradient framework is developed in order to characterize the mechanical and thermal behavior of metals in small volume and on the fast transient time. The concept of the thermal activation energy, the dislocations interaction mechanisms, nonlocal energy exchange between energy carriers and phonon-electrons interactions are taken into consideration in proposing the thermodynamic potentials such as Helmholtz free energy and rate of dissipation. The same approach is also adopted to incorporate the effect of the material microstructural interface between two materials (e.g. grain boundary in crystals) into the formulation. The developed grain boundary flow rule accounts for the energy storage at the grain boundary due to the dislocation pile up as well as energy dissipation caused by the dislocation transfer through the grain boundary. Some of the abovementioned responses of small scale metallic compounds are addressed by means of the numerical implementation of the developed framework within the finite element context. In this regard, both displacement and plastic strain fields are independently discretized and the numerical implementation is performed in the finite element program ABAQUS/standard via the user element subroutine UEL. Using this numerical capability, an extensive study is conducted on the major characteristics of the proposed theories for bulk and interface such as size effect on yield and kinematic hardening, features of boundary layer formation, thermal softening and grain boundary weakening, and the effect of soft and stiff interfaces.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Voyiadjis, George Z.