Continuum representations of micromechanical phenomena in structured materials are described, with emphasis on cellular solids. These phenomena are interpreted in light of Cosserat elasticity, a generalized continuum theory which admits degrees of freedom not present in classical elasticity. These are the rotation of points in the material, and a couple per unit area or couple stress. Experimental work in this area is reviewed, and other interpretation schemes are discussed. The applicability of Cosserat elasticity to cellular solids and fibrous composite materials is considered as is the application of related generalized continuum theories. New experimental results are presented for foam materials with negative Poisson’s ratios.

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