On the existence and uniqueness of a solution to the interior transmission problem for piecewise-homogeneous solids

Cédric Bellis, Bojan B. Guzina

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14 Scopus citations


The interior transmission problem (ITP), which plays a fundamental role in inverse scattering theories involving penetrable defects, is investigated within the framework of mechanical waves scattered by piecewise-homogeneous, elastic or viscoelastic obstacles in a likewise heterogeneous background solid. For generality, the obstacle is allowed to be multiply connected, having both penetrable components (inclusions) and impenetrable parts (cavities). A variational formulation is employed to establish sufficient conditions for the existence and uniqueness of a solution to the ITP, provided that the excitation frequency does not belong to (at most) countable spectrum of transmission eigenvalues. The featured sufficient conditions, expressed in terms of the mass density and elasticity parameters of the problem, represent an advancement over earlier works on the subject in that (i) they pose a precise, previously unavailable provision for the well-posedness of the ITP in situations when both the obstacle and the background solid are heterogeneous, and (ii) they are dimensionally consistent, i.e., invariant under the choice of physical units. For the case of a viscoelastic scatterer in an elastic solid it is further shown, consistent with earlier studies in acoustics, electromagnetism, and elasticity that the uniqueness of a solution to the ITP is maintained irrespective of the vibration frequency. When applied to the situation where both the scatterer and the background medium are viscoelastic, i.e., dissipative, on the other hand, the same type of analysis shows that the analogous claim of uniqueness does not hold. Physically, such anomalous behavior of the "viscoelastic-viscoelastic" case (that has eluded previous studies) has its origins in a lesser known fact that the homogeneous ITP is not mechanically insulated from its surroundings-a feature that is particularly cloaked in situations when either the background medium or the scatterer are dissipative. A set of numerical results, computed for ITP configurations that meet the sufficient conditions for the existence of a solution, is included to illustrate the problem. Consistent with the preceding analysis, the results indicate that the set of transmission values is indeed empty in the "elastic-viscoelastic" case, and countable for "elastic- elastic" and "viscoelastic-viscoelastic" configurations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-57
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Elasticity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • Anisotropic viscoelasticity
  • Existence
  • Interior transmission problem
  • Piecewise- homogeneous media
  • Transmission eigenvalues
  • Uniqueness


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