A physical perspective of the length scales in gradient elasticity through the prism of wave dispersion

Egor V. Dontsov, Roman D. Tokmashev, Bojan B. Guzina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The goal of this study is to understand the physical meaning and evaluate the intrinsic length scale parameters, featured in the theories of gradient elasticity, by deploying the analytical treatment and experimental measurements of the dispersion of elastic waves. The developments are focused on examining the propagation of longitudinal waves in an aluminum rod with periodically varying cross-section. First, the analytical solution for the dispersion relationship, based on the periodic cell analysis of a bi-layered laminate and Bloch theorem, is compared to two competing models of gradient elasticity. It is shown that the customary gradient elastic model with two length-scale parameters is able to capture the dispersion accurately up to the beginning of the first band gap. On the other hand, the gradient elastic model with an additional length scale (affiliated with the fourth-order time derivative in the field equation) is shown to capture not only the first dispersion branch before the band gap, but also the band gap itself and the preponderance of the second branch. Closed form relations between the microstructure parameters and the intrinsic length scales are obtained for both gradient elasticity models. By way of the asymptotic treatment in the limit of a weak contrast between the laminae, a clear physical meaning and scaling of the length-scale parameters was established in terms of: (i) the microstructure (given by the size of the unit cell and the contrast between the laminae), and (ii) thus induced dispersion relationship (characterized by the location and the width of the band gap). The analysis is verified through an experimental observation of wave dispersion, and wave attenuation within the band gap. A comparison between the analytical treatment, the gradient elastic model with three intrinsic length scales, and experimental measurements demonstrates a good agreement over the range of frequencies considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3674-3684
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Solids and Structures
Issue number22-23
StatePublished - Oct 15 2013


  • Gradient elasticity
  • Length scales
  • Wave dispersion


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