Composites can be tailored to specific applications by adjusting process variables. These variables include those related to composition, such as volume fraction of the constituents and those associated with processing methods, methods that can affect composite topology. In the case of particle matrix composites, orientation of the inclusions affects the resulting composite properties, particularly so in instances where the particles can be oriented and arranged into structures. In this work, we study the effects of coupled electric and magnetic field processing with externally applied fields on those structures, and consequently on the resulting material properties that arise. The ability to vary these processing conditions with the goal of generating microstructures that yield target material properties adds an additional level of control to the design of composite material properties. Moreover, while analytical models allow for the prediction of resulting composite properties from constituents and composite topology, these models do not build upward from process variables to make these predictions.
This work couples simulation of the formation of microscale architectures, which result from coupled electric and magnetic field processing of particulate filled polymer matrix composites, with finite element analysis of those structures to provide a direct and explicit linkages between process, structure, and properties. This work demonstrates the utility of these method as a tool for determining composite properties from constituent and processing parameters. Initial particle dynamics simulation incorporating electromagnetic responses between particles and between the particles and the applied fields, including dielectrophoresis, are used to stochastically generate representative volume elements for a given set of process variables. Next, these RVEs are analyzed as periodic structures using FEA yielding bulk material properties. The results are shown to converge for simulation size and discretization, validating the RVE as an appropriate representation of the composite volume. Calculated material properties are compared to traditional effective medium theory models. Simulations allow for mapping of composite properties with respect to not only composition, but also fundamentally from processing simulations that yield varying particle configurations, a step not present in traditional or more modern effective medium theories such as the Halpin Tsai or double-inclusion theories.