Piezoresistive fiber-reinforced composites: A coupled nonlinear micromechanical-microelectrical modeling approach

Rami Haj-Ali, Hagit Zemer, Rani El-Hajjar, Jacob Aboudi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Piezoresistive composites are materials that exhibit spatial and effective electrical resistivity changes as a result of local mechanical deformations in their constituents. These materials have a wide array of applications from non-destructive evaluation to sensor technology. We propose a new coupled nonlinear micromechanical-microelectrical modeling framework for periodic heterogeneous media. These proposed micro-models enable the prediction of the effective piezoresistive properties along with the corresponding spatial distributions of local mechanical-electrical fields, such as stress, strain, current densities, and electrical potentials. To this end, the high fidelity generalized method of cells (HFGMC), originally developed for micromechanical analysis of composites, is extended for the micro-electrical modeling in order to predict their spatial field distributions and effective electrical properties. In both cases, the local displacement vector and electrical potential are expanded using quadratic polynomials in each subvolume (subcell). The equilibrium and charge conservations are satisfied in an average volumetric fashion. In addition, the continuity and periodicity of the displacements, tractions, electrical potential, and current are satisfied at the subcell interfaces on an average basis. Next, a one way coupling is established between the nonlinear mechanical and electrical effects, whereby the mechanical deformations affect the electrical conductivity in the fiber and/or matrix constituents. Incremental and total formulations are used to arrive at the proper nonlinear solution of the governing equations. The micro-electrical HFGMC is first verified by comparing the stand-alone electrical solution predictions with the finite element method for different doubly periodic composites. Next, the coupled HFGMC is calibrated and experimentally verified in order to examine the effective piezoresistivity of different composites. These include conductive polymeric matrices doped with carbon nano-tubes or particles. One advantage of the proposed nonlinear coupled micro-models is its ability to predict the local and effective electro-mechanical behaviors of multi-phase periodic composites with different conductive phases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-503
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Solids and Structures
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2014


  • Coupled micromechanics
  • Mechanical-electrical
  • Multiphysics
  • Piezoresistive

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics
  • General Materials Science
  • Modelling and Simulation


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