This paper presents a microstructure-guided modeling approach to predict the effective elastic response of heterogeneous materials, and demonstrates its application toward two highly heterogeneous, unconventional structural binders, i.e., iron carbonate and fly ash geopolymer. Microstructural information from synchrotron X-ray tomography (XRT) and intrinsic elastic properties of component solid phases from statistical nanoindentation are used as the primary inputs. The virtual periodic 3D microstructure reconstructed using XRT, along with periodic boundary conditions is used as a basis for strain-controlled numerical simulation scheme in the linear elastic range to predict the elastic modulus as well as the stresses in the microstructural phases. The elastic modulus of the composite material predicted from the microstructure-based constitutive modeling approach correlates very well with experimental measurements for both the materials considered. This technique efficiently links the microstructure to mechanical properties of interest and helps develop material design guidelines for novel heterogeneous composites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-64
Number of pages13
JournalComputational Materials Science
StatePublished - Jun 15 2016


  • Binders
  • Constitutive model
  • Finite element
  • Microstructure
  • Nanoindentation
  • X-ray tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Computational Mathematics


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