ITLApplied  Computational Mathematics Division
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ITL Collaborates in Development of Object-Oriented Finite-Element Tools for Analysis of Material Microstructures

February 1997

A set of tools for analyzing the properties of materials based on images of their microstructure is being developed in a collaboration between Steve Langer of ITL and Craig Carter and Ed Fuller of MSEL. Although the microstructure of a material determines its macroscopic properties and researchers increasingly need to understand complicated composite materials, there are no general methods for evaluating the macroscopic behavior of a given microstructure.

To address this need, two tools are under development. OOF (Object-Oriented Finite element) is used to analyze finite-element meshes created with PPM2OOF. PPM2OOF reads images in PPM (Portable Pixel Map) format, assigns materials properties to them, and creates meshes for OOF. The programs are designed to be able to attack a wide variety of materials problems, such as elasticity, thermal diffusion, piezoelectricity, etc., with flexibility assigned boundary conditions. Furthermore, they must be able to handle many different types of materials. The programs have been designed under the assumption that the programmers could not know ahead of time what material systems the users would want to study, nor what kinds of questions they would want to ask. Programming in C++ allows new material types (e.g., isotropic, orthorhombic) and new degrees of freedom (e.g., strain, temperature, electric field) as well as new operations (e.g., equilibrium, mutation) to be added easily. Both tools use a common set of easily extensible general-purpose graphical interface routines. Beta versions of the programs, which solve the elasticity program and run on SGI workstations, are available through MSEL's CTCMS web server at

(bullet) Stephen Langer (NIST/MCSD/MMG)
(bullet) Edwin Fuller ()
See also:
(bullet) Object-Oriented Finite Element Modeling of Material Microstructures

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