Nonlinear inclusion theory with application to the growth and morphogenesis of a confined body

Academic Article


  • One of the most celebrated contributions to the study of the mechanical behavior of materials is due to J.D. Eshelby, who in the late 50s revolutionized our understanding of the elastic stress and strain fields due to an ellipsoidal inclusion/inhomogeneity that undergoes a transformation of shape and size. While Eshelby's work laid the foundation for significant advancements in various fields, including fracture mechanics, theory of phase transitions, and homogenization methods, its extension into the range of large deformations, and to situations in which the material can actively reorganize in response to the finite transformation strain, is in a nascent state. Beyond the theoretical difficulties imposed by highly nonlinear material response, a major hindrance has been the absence of experimental observations that can elucidate the intricacies that arise in this regime. To address this limitation, our experimental observations reveal the key morphogenesis steps of Vibrio cholerae biofilms embedded in hydrogels, as they grow by four orders of magnitude from their initial size. Using the biofilm growth as a case study, our theoretical model considers various growth scenarios and employs two different and complimentary methods -- a minimal analytical model and finite element computations -- to obtain approximate equilibrium solutions. A particular emphasis is put on determining the natural growth path of an inclusion that optimizes its shape in response to the confinement, and the onset of damage in the matrix, which together explain the observed behavior of biofilms. Beyond bacterial biofilms, this work sheds light on the role of mechanics in determining the morphogenesis pathways of confined growing bodies and thus applies to a broad range of phenomena that are ubiquitous in both natural and engineered material systems.
  • Authors

  • Li, Jian
  • Kothari, Mrityunjay
  • Chockalingam, S
  • Henzel, Thomas
  • Zhang, Qiuting
  • Li, Xuanhe
  • Yan, Jing
  • Cohen, Tal
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • February 2022
  • Keywords

  • Bacterial biofilms
  • Damage
  • Eshelby inclusion
  • Growth
  • Morphogenesis
  • Nonlinear inclusion
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 104709
  • End Page

  • 104709
  • Volume

  • 159