A Statistical Approach for the Concurrent Coupling of Molecular Dynamics and Finite Element Methods
48th AIAA/ASME/ASCE/AHS/ASC Structures, Structural Dynamics, and Materials Conference
Molecular dynamics (MD) methods are opening new opportunities for simulating the fundamental processes of material behavior at the atomistic level. However, increasing the size of the MD domain quickly presents intractable computational demands. A robust approach to surmount this computational limitation has been to unite continuum modeling procedures such as the finite element method (FEM) with MD analyses thereby reducing the region of atomic scale refinement. The challenging problem is to
... mlessly connect the two inherently different simulation techniques at their interface. In the present work, a new approach to MD-FEM coupling is developed based on a restatement of the typical boundary value problem used to define a coupled domain. The method uses statistical averaging of the atomistic MD domain to provide displacement interface boundary conditions to the surrounding continuum FEM region, which, in return, generates interface reaction forces applied as piecewise constant traction boundary conditions to the MD domain. The two systems are computationally disconnected and communicate only through a continuous update of their boundary conditions. With the use of statistical averages of the atomistic quantities to couple the two computational schemes, the developed approach is referred to as an embedded statistical coupling method (ESCM) as opposed to a direct coupling method where interface atoms and FEM nodes are individually related. The methodology is inherently applicable to three-dimensional domains, avoids discretization of the continuum model down to atomic scales, and permits arbitrary temperatures to be applied.