Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Hang Jerry Qi

Second Advisor

Yifu Ding

Third Advisor

Martin L. Dunn

Fourth Advisor

Jianliang Xiao

Fifth Advisor

Mark P. Stoykovich


Soft active materials, such as shape memory polymers, liquid crystal elastomers, soft tissues, gels etc., are materials that can deform largely in response to external stimuli. Micromechanics analysis of heterogeneous materials based on finite element method is a typically numerical way to study the thermal-mechanical behaviors of soft active materials with phase evolution. While the constitutive models that can precisely describe the stress and strain fields of materials in the process of phase evolution can not be found in the databases of some commercial finite element analysis (FEA) tools such as ANSYS or Abaqus, even the specific constitutive behavior for each individual phase either the new formed one or the original one has already been well-known. So developing a computationally efficient and general three dimensional (3D) thermal-mechanical constitutive model for soft active materials with phase evolution which can be implemented into FEA is eagerly demanded. This paper first solved this problem theoretically by recording the deformation history of each individual phase in the phase evolution process, and adopted the idea of effectiveness by regarding all the new formed phase as an effective phase with an effective deformation to make this theory computationally efficient. A user material subroutine (UMAT) code based on this theoretical constitutive model has been finished in this work which can be added into the material database in Abaqus or ANSYS and can be easily used for most soft active materials with phase evolution. Model validation also has been done through comparison between micromechanical FEA and experiments on a particular composite material, shape memory elastomeric composite (SMEC) which consisted of an elastomeric matrix and the crystallizable fibre. Results show that the micromechanics and the constitutive models developed in this paper for soft active materials with phase evolution are completely relied on.