Magneto-Active elastomers (MAEs) and magneto-rheological elastomers (MREs) are smart materials that consist of hard and soft magnetic particles, respectively, embedded in a flexible matrix. Their actuation capabilities are dependent on the arrangement of particles achieved during the fabrication process. Previous works have shown varying degrees of particle alignment and / or agglomeration as a function of fabrication process variable, most notably volume fraction of the particulates, their magnetic material type (hard vs soft), and the strength of the external field applied during curing. In this work, we simulated the dynamics of magnetic particles suspended in a fluid matrix to predict the evolution of microstructures resulting from these varying process conditions. The simulations accounted for the magnetic interaction of all particles using standard dipole-dipole interaction potentials along with dipole-field potentials developed from the Zeeman Energy. Additionally, the field local to each particle, on which magnetization depends, was determined by the sum of the external fields generated by each member of the ensemble and their demagnetizing fields. Fluid drag forces and short range particle-particle repulsion (non-overlapping) were also considered. These interactions determined the body forces and torques acting on each particle that drove the system of equations of motions for the ensemble of particles. The simulation was carried out over a nearest neighbor periodic unit cell using an adaptive time stepping numerical integration scheme until an equilibrium structure was reached. Structural parameters, related to the magnetic energy, spatial distribution, spatial alignment, and orientation alignments of the particle distributions were defined to characterize the simulated structures. The effect of volume fraction and intensity of the external magnetic field on the achieved particle distributions were studied. At low external field strengths, the particles formed long entangled chains that had very low alignment with the applied field. The remnant magnetic potential energy of these configurations was also significantly low. As the field is increased the length of the chains reduced and the alignment increased. The corresponding change in magnetic potential energy of the system with an increase in the applied field was found to follow a power law fit that spanned a wide range of magnetic field strengths. At low volume fractions the particles aligned rapidly with the field and formed short chains. As the volume fraction of the samples increased the chains grew longer and closer to each other, and magnetic potential of the structure became lower. Results of the simulations suggest that it is possible to tailor the microstructure and thus affect remanent magnetization and magnetization anisotropy, by judicious control of process parameters. This ability could have implications for newly emerging additive manufacturing techniques utilizing suspensions of magnetic particulates.

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