Lattice approaches have emerged as a powerful tool to capture the effective mechanical behavior of heterogeneous materials using harmonic interactions inspired from beam-type stretch and rotational interactions between a discrete number of mass points. In this paper, the lattice element method (LEM) is reformulated within the conceptual framework of empirical force fields employed at the lattice scale. Within this framework, because classical harmonic formulations are but a Taylor expansion of nonharmonic potential expressions, they can be used to model both the linear and the nonlinear response of discretized material systems. Specifically, closed-form calibration procedures for such interaction potentials are derived for both the isotropic and the transverse isotropic elastic cases on cubic lattices, in the form of linear relations between effective elasticity properties and energy parameters that define the interactions. The relevance of the approach is shown by an application to the classical Griffith crack problem. In particular, it is shown that continuum-scale quantities of linear-elastic fracture mechanics, such as stress intensity factors (SIFs), are well captured by the method, which by its very discrete nature removes geometric discontinuities that provoke stress singularities in the continuum case. With its strengths and limitations thus defined, the proposed LEM is well suited for the study of multiphase materials whose microtextural information is obtained by, e.g., X-ray micro-computed tomography. (c) 2017 American Society of Civil Engineers.

VL - 7 UR - http://ascelibrary.org/doi/10.1061/%28ASCE%29NM.2153-5477.0000125 IS - 3 JO - J. Nanomech. Micromech. ER -