Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Mahmoud I. Hussein

Second Advisor

Mark J. Ablowitz

Third Advisor

Alireza Doostan

Fourth Advisor

John A. Evans

Fifth Advisor

Carlos A. Felippa


Wave motion lies at the heart of many disciplines in the physical sciences and engineering. For example, problems and applications involving light, sound, heat, or fluid flow are all likely to involve wave dynamics at some level. A particular class of problems is concerned with the propagation of elastic waves in a solid medium, such as a fiber-reinforced composite material responding to vibratory excitations, or soil and rock admitting seismic waves moments after the onset of an earthquake, or phonon transport in a semiconducting crystal like silicon. Regardless of the type of wave, the dispersion relation provides a fundamental characterization of the elastodynamic properties of the medium.

The first part of the dissertation examines the propagation of a large-amplitude elastic wave in a one-dimensional homogeneous medium with a focus on the effects of inherent nonlinearities on the dispersion relation. Considering a thin rod, where the thickness is small compared to the wavelength, an exact, closed-form formulation is presented for the treatment of two types of nonlinearity in the strain-displacement gradient relation: Green-Lagrange and Hencky. The derived relation is then verified by direct time-domain simulations, examining both instantaneous dispersion (by direct observation) and short-term, pre-breaking dispersion (by Fourier transformation). A high-order perturbation analysis is also conducted yielding an explicit analytical space-time solution, which is shown to be spectrally accurate. The results establish a perfect match between theory and simulation and reveal that regardless of the strength of the nonlinearity, the dispersion relation fully embodies all information pertaining to the nonlinear harmonic generation mechanism that unfolds as an arbitrary-profiled wave evolves in the medium.

In the second part of the dissertation, the analysis is extended to a continuous periodic thin rod exhibiting multiple phases or embedded local resonators. The extended method, which is based on a standard transfer-matrix formulation augmented with a nonlinear enrichment at the constitutive material level, yields an approximate band structure that is accurate to an amplitude that is roughly one eighth of the unit cell length. This approach represents a new paradigm for examining the balance between periodicity and nonlinearity in shaping the nature of wave motion.