Calculus of Variations and Geometric Measure Theory

P. W. Dondl - A. Lemenant - S. Wojtowytsch

Phase field models for thin elastic structures with topological constraint

created by lemenant on 11 Jul 2015
modified by wojtowytsch on 13 Sep 2018


Accepted Paper

Inserted: 11 jul 2015
Last Updated: 13 sep 2018

Journal: Arch Rational Mech Anal
Year: 2016
Doi: 10.1007/s00205-016-1043-6

ArXiv: 1507.01856 PDF
Links: published, preprint


This article is concerned with the problem of minimising the Willmore energy in the class of \emph{connected} surfaces with prescribed area which are confined to a small container. We propose a phase field approximation based on De Giorgi's diffuse Willmore functional to this variational problem. Our main contribution is a penalisation term which ensures connectedness in the sharp interface limit. The penalisation of disconnectedness is based on a geodesic distance chosen to be small between two points that lie on the same connected component of the transition layer of the phase field. We prove that in two dimensions, sequences of phase fields with uniformly bounded diffuse Willmore energy and diffuse area converge uniformly to the zeros of a double-well potential away from the support of a limiting measure. In three dimensions, we show that they converge $\mathcal{H}^1$-almost everywhere on curves. This enables us to show $\Gamma$-convergence to a sharp interface problem that only allows for connected structures. The results also imply Hausdorff convergence of the level sets in two dimensions and a similar result in three dimensions. We furthermore present numerical evidence of the effectiveness of our model. The implementation relies on a coupling of Dijkstra's algorithm in order to compute the topological penalty to a finite element approach for the Willmore term.