Scale-dependent homogenization of random composites as micropolar continua

Patrizia Trovalusci, Martin Ostoja-Starzewski, Maria Laura De Bellis, Agnese Murrali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A multitude of composite materials ranging from polycrystals to rocks, concrete, and masonry overwhelmingly display random morphologies. While it is known that a Cosserat (micropolar) medium model of such materials is superior to a Cauchy model, the size of the Representative Volume Element (RVE) of the effective homogeneous Cosserat continuum has so far been unknown. Moreover, the determination of RVE properties has always been based on the periodic cell concept. This study presents a homogenization procedure for disordered Cosserat-type materials without assuming any spatial periodicity of the microstructures. The setting is one of linear elasticity of statistically homogeneous and ergodic two-phase (matrix-inclusion) random microstructures. The homogenization is carried out according to a generalized Hill-Mandel type condition applied on mesoscales, accounting for non-symmetric strain and stress as well as couple-stress and curvature tensors. In the setting of a two-dimensional elastic medium made of a base matrix and a random distribution of disk-shaped inclusions of given density, using Dirichlet-type and Neumann-type loadings, two hierarchies of scale-dependent bounds on classical and micropolar elastic moduli are obtained. The characteristic length scales of approximating micropolar continua are then determined. Two material cases of inclusions, either stiffer or softer than the matrix, are studied and it is found that, independent of the contrast in moduli, the RVE size for the bending micropolar moduli is smaller than that obtained for the classical moduli. The results point to the need of accounting for: spatial randomness of the medium, the presence of inclusions intersecting the edges of test windows, and the importance of additional degrees of freedom of the Cosserat continuum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)396-407
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Mechanics, A/Solids
StatePublished - Jan 2015


  • Cosserat
  • RVE size
  • Random microstructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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