Finite element formulation of slender structures with shear deformation based on the Cosserat theory

Dongsheng Liu, D. Q. Cao, Richard Rosing, Charles H. -T. Wang, Andrew Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


This paper addresses the derivation of finite element modelling for nonlinear dynamics of Cosserat rods with general deformation of flexure, extension, torsion, and shear. A deformed configuration of the Cosserat rod is described by the displacement vector of the deformed centroid curve and an orthogonal moving frame, rigidly attached to the cross-section of the rod. The position of the moving frame relative to the inertial frame is specified by the rotation matrix, parameterised by a rotational vector. The shape functions with up to third order nonlinear terms of generic nodal displacements are obtained by solving the nonlinear partial differential equations of motion in a quasi-static sense. Based on the Lagrangian constructed by the Cosserat kinetic energy and strain energy expressions, the principle of virtual work is employed to derive the ordinary differential equations of motion with third order nonlinear generic nodal displacements. A cantilever is presented as a simple example to illustrate the use of the formulation developed here to obtain the lower order nonlinear ordinary differential equations of motion of a given structure. The corresponding nonlinear dynamical responses of the structures are presented through numerical simulations using the MATLAB software. In addition, a MicroElectroMechanical System (MEMS) device is presented. The developed equations of motion have furthermore been implemented in a VHDL-AMS beam model. Together with available models of the other components, a netlist of the device is formed and simulated within an electrical circuit simulator. Simulation results are verified against Finite Element Analysis (FEA) results for this device. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7785-7802
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Solids and Structures
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2007


  • slender structure
  • Cosserat rod element
  • Cosserat theory
  • nonlinear dynamics


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