Numerical modeling of nonlinear photoelasticity

Mehnert M, Oates W, Steinmann P (2022)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2022


DOI: 10.1002/nme.7177


When molecular photo-switches, such as azobenzene or norbornadiene, are embedded into a sufficiently soft polymer matrix the resulting compound can undergo a mechanical deformation induced by light of a specific wavelength. These photo-sensitive compounds have the potential to be applied as soft actuators without the need for hard wired electronics or a separate energy source. Such characteristics are especially attractive in the design of micro-scale robots but also other applications such as high-speed data transfer or the conversion of photonic energy into a mechanical response holds great promise. Despite these almost futuristic possibilities, photo-sensitive polymers have not yet experienced a sufficient attention in industrial applications. One important factor to increase the acceptance of this group of soft smart materials is the formulation of a rigorous constitutive modeling approach in combination with numerical simulation methods. Thus, in this contribution we present a photo-mechanical modeling approach, departing from the fundamentals published previously. We briefly introduce the necessary constitutive equations which are subsequently utilized in combination with the respective balance laws into a finite element implementation. Finally, the capabilities of the numerical solution approach are illustrated by a simple two-dimensional bench-mark example and subsequently extended to a more complex three-dimensional problem.

Authors with CRIS profile

Additional Organisation(s)

Involved external institutions

How to cite


Mehnert, M., Oates, W., & Steinmann, P. (2022). Numerical modeling of nonlinear photoelasticity. International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering.


Mehnert, Markus, William Oates, and Paul Steinmann. "Numerical modeling of nonlinear photoelasticity." International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering (2022).

BibTeX: Download