Skeletonization, Geometrical Analysis, and Finite Element Modeling of Nanoporous Gold Based on 3D Tomography Data


Various modeling approaches simplify and parametrize the complex network structure of nanoporous gold (NPG) for studying the structure–property relationship based on artificially generated structures. This paper presents a computational efficient and versatile finite element method (FEM) beam model that is based on skeletonization and diameter information derived from the original 3D focused ion beam-scanning electron microscope (FIB-SEM) tomography data of NPG. The geometrical skeleton network is thoroughly examined for a better understanding of the NPG structure. A skeleton FEM beam model is derived that can predict the macroscopic mechanical behavior of the material. Comparisons between the mechanical response of this skeleton beam model and a solid FEM model are conducted. Results showed that the biggest-sphere diameter algorithm implemented in the open-source software FIJI, commonly used for geometrical analysis of microstructural data, overestimates the diameter of the curved NPG ligaments. The larger diameters lead to a significant overestimation of macroscopic stiffness and strength by the skeleton FEM beam model. For a parabolic shaped ligament with only 20% variation in its diameter, a factor of more than two was found in stiffness. It is concluded that improved algorithms for image processing are needed that provide accurate diameter information along the ligament axis.
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