On the Phase Space of Fourth-Order Fiber-Orientation Tensors

Fiber-orientation tensors describe the relevant features of the fiber-orientation distribution compactly and are thus ubiquitous in injection-molding simulations and subsequent mechanical analyses. In engineering applications to date, the second-order fiber-orientation tensor is the basic quantity of interest, and the fourth-order fiber-orientation tensor is obtained via a closure approximation. Unfortunately, such a description limits the predictive capabilities of the modeling process significantly, because the wealth of possible fourth-order fiber-orientation tensors is not exploited by such closures, and the restriction to second-order fiber-orientation tensors implies artifacts. Closures based on the second-order fiber-orientation tensor face a fundamental problem – which fourth-order fiber-orientation tensors can be realized? In the literature, only necessary conditions for a fiber-orientation tensor to be connected to a fiber-orientation distribution are found. In this article, we show that the typically considered necessary conditions, positive semidefiniteness and a trace condition, are also sufficient for being a fourth-order fiber-orientation tensor in the physically relevant case of two and three spatial dimensions. Moreover, we show that these conditions are not sufficient in higher dimensions. The argument is based on convex duality and a celebrated theorem of D. Hilbert (1888) on the decomposability of positive and homogeneous polynomials of degree four. The result has numerous implications for modeling the flow and the resulting microstructures of fiber-reinforced composites, in particular for the effective elastic constants of such materials. Based on our findings, we show how to connect optimization problems on fourth-order fiber-orientation tensors to semi-definite programming. The proposed formulation permits to encode symmetries of the fiber-orientation tensor naturally. As an application, we look at the differences between orthotropic and general, i.e., triclinic, fiber-orientation tensors of fourth order in two and three spatial dimensions, revealing the severe limitations inherent to orthotropic closure approximations.


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