Energy minimizing twinning with variable volume fraction, for two nonlinear elastic phases with a single rank-one connection

Sergio Conti, Robert V. Kohn, Oleksandr Misiats

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In materials that undergo martensitic phase transformation, distinct elastic phases often form layered microstructures- A phenomenon known as twinning. In some settings the volume fractions of the phases vary macroscopically; this has been seen, in particular, in experiments involving the bending of a bar. We study a two-dimensional (2D) model problem of this type, involving two geometrically nonlinear phases with a single rank-one connection. We adopt a variational perspective, focusing on the minimization of elastic plus surface energy. To get started, we show that twinning with variable volume fraction must occur when bending is imposed by a Dirichlet-type boundary condition. We then turn to paper's main goal, which is to determine how the minimum energy scales with respect to the surface energy density and the transformation strain. Our analysis combines ansatz-based upper bounds with ansatz-free lower bounds. For the upper bounds we consider two very different candidates for the microstructure: One that involves self-similar refinement of its length scale near the boundary, and another based on piecewise-linear approximation with a single length scale. Our lower bounds adapt methods previously introduced by Chan and Conti to address a problem involving twinning with constant volume fraction. The energy minimization problem considered in this paper is not intended to model twinning with variable volume fraction involving two martensite variants; rather, it provides a convenient starting point for the development of a mathematical toolkit for the study of twinning with variable volume fraction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1671-1723
Number of pages53
JournalMathematical Models and Methods in Applied Sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022


  • Solid-solid phase transitions
  • nonlinear elasticity
  • twinning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Applied Mathematics


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