A Homogenized Bending Theory for Prestrained Plates

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


The presence of prestrain can have a tremendous effect on the mechanical behavior of slender structures. Prestrained elastic plates show spontaneous bending in equilibrium—a property that makes such objects relevant for the fabrication of active and functional materials. In this paper we study microheterogeneous, prestrained plates that feature non-flat equilibrium shapes. Our goal is to understand the relation between the properties of the prestrained microstructure and the global shape of the plate in mechanical equilibrium. To this end, we consider a three-dimensional, nonlinear elasticity model that describes a periodic material that occupies a domain with small thickness. We consider a spatially periodic prestrain described in the form of a multiplicative decomposition of the deformation gradient. By simultaneous homogenization and dimension reduction, we rigorously derive an effective plate model as a Γ-limit for vanishing thickness and period. That limit has the form of a nonlinear bending energy with an emergent spontaneous curvature term. The homogenized properties of the bending model (bending stiffness and spontaneous curvature) are characterized by corrector problems. For a model composite—a prestrained laminate composed of isotropic materials—we investigate the dependence of the homogenized properties on the parameters of the model composite. Secondly, we investigate the relation between the parameters of the model composite and the set of shapes with minimal bending energy. Our study reveals a rather complex dependence of these shapes on the composite parameters. For instance, the curvature and principal directions of these shapes depend on the parameters in a nonlinear and discontinuous way; for certain parameter regions we observe uniqueness and non-uniqueness of the shapes. We also observe size effects: The geometries of the shapes depend on the aspect ratio between the plate thickness and the composite period. As a second application of our theory, we study a problem of shape programming: We prove that any target shape (parametrized by a bending deformation) can be obtained (up to a small tolerance) as an energy minimizer of a composite plate, which is simple in the sense that the plate consists of only finitely many grains that are filled with a parametrized composite with a single degree of freedom.


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages90
JournalJournal of nonlinear science
Issue number22
Early online date27 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

External IDs

Scopus 85144825822
dblp journals/jns/BohnleinNPS23
Mendeley ccaa1e96-b2b0-3637-963b-72614cb17bcb
WOS 000905111800001
ORCID /0000-0003-1093-6374/work/142250584



  • Bending plates, Dimension reduction, Homogenization, Nonlinear elasticity, Prestrain, Spontaneous curvature

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