Study and development of sensors and instrumentation for measurements

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 the UNIPD and a crack phase-field model with the associated fem code for brittle fracture developed at ETH Zurich. After validation with new original experiments designed from the numerical modelling and conducted at EPFL Lausanne by the doctoral student, 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. Applications of this project pertain to space engineering/planetary geology, environmental engineering and structural engineering for composite porous structures.



Short bio

Zechao Chen, born in 1998 in Zhejiang Province of China. In 2020, he was admitted to the Department of Civil Engineering and Transportation of Hohai University. He studied under Professor Qizhi Zhu for a master’s degree, mainly engaged in the research of rock mechanics and underground engineering. His interests of research cover micromechanics of cracking problems, constitutive modelling of geomaterials, advanced numerical methods, etc.

Zechao is excited to come to University of Padova when it is the 800th anniversary of it. And he will carry out his MSCA-Cofund project under the supervision of Prof. Lorenzo Sanavia. In his project “Multiphysics modelling of of thermal cracks in multiphase heterogenous porous materials”, he will utilize Phase-field method to study fracture of composite porous materials and interprete its multiphysics nature so that it could be applied in space engineering, planetary geology, environmental engineering and structural engineering.

My educational background includes a M.Eng. in Department of Civil Engineering and Transportation from Hohai University in Nanjing and a B.Eng. in Civil Engineering from the Shaoxing University in China. During these two periods, I was both awarded the title of Outstanding Graduate.

Topic assigned to
Zechao Chen


Project documents