Date of Award

Summer 8-2016

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Kaushik Dayal


We address two problems in this thesis. First, a phase-field model for structural phase transformations in solids and second, a model for dynamic fracture. The existing approaches for both phase transformations and fracture can be grouped into two categories. Sharp-interface models, where interfaces are singular surfaces; and regularized-interface models, such as phase-field models, where interfaces are smeared out. The former are challenging for numerical solutions because the interfaces or crack needs to be explicitly tracked, but have the advantage that the kinetics of existing interfaces or cracks and the nucleation of new interfaces can be transparently and precisely prescribed. The diffused interface models such as phasefield models do not require explicit tracking of interfaces and makes them computationally attractive. However, the specification of kinetics and nucleation is both restrictive and extremely opaque in such models. This prevents straightforward calibration of phase-field models to experiment and/or molecular simulations, and breaks the multiscale hierarchy of passing information from atomic to continuum. Consequently, phase-field models cannot be confidently used in dynamic settings. We present a model which has all the advantages of existing phase-field models but also allows us to prescribe kinetics and nucleation criteria. We present a number of examples to characterize and demonstrate the features of the model. We also extend it to the case of multiple phases where preserving kinetics of each kind of interface is more complex. We use the phase transformation model with certain changes to model dynamic fracture. We achieve the advantage of prescribing nucleation and kinetics independent of each other. We demonstrate examples of anisotropic crack propagation and crack propagation on an interface in a composite material. We also report some limitations of phase-field models for fracture which have not been mentioned in the existing literature. These limitations include dependence of effective crack width and hence the effective surface energy on the crack speed, lack of a reasonable approximation for the mechanical response of cracked region and inability to model large deformations.