Sciences, technologies and measurements for space

Sciences, technologies and measurements for space


Host Department
Center of Studies and Activities for Space



Research Topic B

Abstract of the proposed UNIPhD research project


This research project aims to develop a numerical model able to study the nucleation and propagation of cracks induced by thermal effects in multiphase heterogenous porous materials. This model will be developed within the Thermodynamically Constrained Averaging Theory and the crack phase-field approach to brittle/ductile fracture. The starting point will be the merge of a thermodynamically consistent multiphase porous media model with the associated finite element code Comes-Geo developed at UNIPD and a crack phase-field model with the associated fem code for brittle fracture developed at ETH Zurich. After validation with experimental results from literature and, if it will be possible, from new experiments on the development of desiccation cracks in clayey soils, the model will be further extended. The combination of the outcomes of the developed model and the experimental measurements will allow a step forward on the interpretation of the fracture in multiphase porous materials and its multiphysics nature. This will also allow new insights for designing innovative experiments and measurements.



Short bio

Zechao Chen completed his M.Eng. in Civil and Hydraulic and B.Eng. in Civil Engineering from Hohai University and Shaoxing University in China. During these two periods, he was awarded the title of Provincial-level and School-level Outstanding Graduate. His research path began during his undergraduate studies, where he studied the mechanical properties of modified cement-soils via experiment. During his master degree, he focused on numerical modeling of the impact of shallow underground tunnels on surrounding facilities.

Topic assigned to
Zechao Chen


Project documents