Prof. Dr. Sigrid Leyendecker

Institute of Applied Dynamics, Department Mechanical Engineering

The main direction of research is computational mechanics and optimal control of dynamical systems. Efficient technologies for structural mechanics and optimal control simulations are developed, facing contemporary life science and engineering questions. The problems under investigation consider flexible multibody dynamics, coupled problems, biomechanics, and robot dynamics as well as the optimization and optimal control of their dynamics including non-smooth or mixed-integer variants and multiobjective optimization. Furthermore, (human) motion is captured and investigated in our motion analysis laboratory and the measured data in analyzed directly and in simulations.

Research projects

  • Biomechanics (natural or impaired human movements and athletic’s high performance, human hand grasping)
  • Biological and artificial muscles models
  • Phase-field models for fracture
  • Multiscale and multirate systems with dynamics on various times

Current projects

  • Simulation of optimal control problems via geometric methods

    (Own Funds)

    Term: since 15. February 2023
  • Smoothed finite element methods in modelling and simulation of cardiac electromechanics

    (Third Party Funds Single)

    Term: 1. April 2022 - 31. March 2024
    Funding source: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
  • Simulation and optimal control of flexible mechanical systems with frictional contact

    (Own Funds)

    Term: since 1. January 2022
  • Analysis of Degenerative Motion Impairments through Integration of Empathokinaesthetic Sensor Data in Biomechanical Human Models (C04)

    (Third Party Funds Group – Sub project)

    Overall project: Empatho-Kinaesthetic Sensor Technology
    Term: 1. July 2021 - 30. June 2025
    Funding source: DFG / Sonderforschungsbereich (SFB)
    The focus of the work program is on the best possible integration of empathokinaesthetic sensor data in biomechanical models. Concretely, degenerative motion impairments of the hand are recorded by EmpkinS and reference sensors and the date is integrated optimally into the mathematical formulation of the optimal control problem, depending on the data type, measurement frequency and uncertainty, etc. Through movement tracking as well as via the prediction of movement, objective biomarkers are identified for healthy or impaired movement function.
  • Dynamic analysis of prosthetic structures with polymorphic uncertainty

    (Third Party Funds Group – Sub project)

    Overall project: Polymorphic uncertainty modelling for the numerical design of structures
    Term: 1. October 2020 - 30. September 2023
    Funding source: DFG-Einzelförderung / Sachbeihilfe (EIN-SBH)
    People with joint disorders or lower limb loss require a technical substitute that restores biomechanical function and body integrity. Prothetic structures not only need to fulfil their respective functional requirements (allowing a save and wide range of motion at low energy expenditure and without impairing the person's body) but also the appearance of the resulting motion (including aesthetic properties like natural and symmetric gait patterns) is of high relevance. Since measurement of in vivo joint motion and loading is complicated and the experimental testing of newly developed prostheses under real life conditions is very difficult (in particular for experiments concerning human movements with prostheses, there are hardly appropriate probands available), predictive simulation plays a major role. Biomechanical motion can be simulated as solution of an optimal control problem, with a physiologically motivated objective function. However, polymorphic sources of uncertainty are present resulting from the prostheses itself, the way a patient moves or the environment. The overarching goal of this project (phases I and II) is the development of models and structure preserving solution methods for biomechanical optimal control problems involving uncertainty to enable the reliable prediction of human motion with prostheses and their analysis.
  • Joint Training on Numerical Modelling of Highly Flexible Structures for Industrial Applications

    (Third Party Funds Single)

    Term: 1. October 2019 - 30. September 2023
    Funding source: EU - 8. Rahmenprogramm - Horizon 2020
    Highly flexible slender structures like yarns, cables, hoses or ropes are essential parts of high-performance engineering systems. The complex response of such structures in real operational conditions is far beyond the capabilities of current modelling tools that are at the core of modern product development cycles.

    Addressing this requires a new generation of brilliant scientists. Marie Skłodowska-Curie funding of the THREAD project will bring together young mechanical engineers and mathematicians who will develop mechanical models and numerical methods for designing highly flexible slender structures, and support the development of future virtual prototyping tools for products where such structures have a key role in functional system performance. 

    THREAD is a unique network of universities, research organisations and industry which by addressing fundamental modelling problems will ultimately enable the field to better meet the needs of different industries. A group of 14 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) will receive comprehensive training covering state-of-the-art research topics along the modeling of highly flexible slender structures for industrial applications  as well as valuable transferable skills. They will benefit from close cooperation with twelve industrial partner organisations implementing a comprehensive programme of research secondments and contributing their experience.

  • Teilprojekt P2 - Atomistics of Crack-Heterogeneity Interactions

    (Third Party Funds Group – Sub project)

    Overall project: Skalenübergreifende Bruchvorgänge: Integration von Mechanik, Materialwissenschaften, Mathematik, Chemie und Physik (FRASCAL)
    Term: 2. January 2019 - 30. June 2023
    Funding source: DFG / Graduiertenkolleg (GRK)

    The fracture of a brittle solid is crucially determined by material heterogeneities directly at the crack front where the stress field diverges and the usual homogenization strategies are no longer applicable. While this problem has attracted significant interest, currently no consistent theory that relates local changes in properties to the local fracture behavior and macroscopic failure criteria exists. In contrast to the long-range elastic interactions, the direct interaction of the crack front with heterogeneities cannot be described by continuum methods but requires an atomistic treatment.

    The aim of this project is to study the influence of various types of heterogeneities on the energy dissipation mechanisms in different classes of materials.

  • Teilprojekt P9 - Adaptive Dynamic Fracture Simulation

    (Third Party Funds Group – Sub project)

    Overall project: Fracture across Scales: Integrating Mechanics, Materials Science, Mathematics, Chemistry, and Physics (FRASCAL)
    Term: 2. January 2019 - 30. June 2023
    Funding source: DFG / Graduiertenkolleg (GRK)

    In the simulation of continuum mechanical problems of materials with heterogeneities caused e.g. by a grained structure on a smaller scale compared to the overall dimension of the system, or by the propagation of discontinuities like cracks, the spatial meshes for finite element simulations are typically consisting of coarse elements to save computational costs in regions where less deformation is expected, as well as finely discretised areas to be able to resolve discontinuities and small scale phenomena in an accurate way. For transient problems, spatial mesh adaption has been the topic of intensive research and many strategies are available, which refine or coarsen the spatial mesh according to different criteria. However, the standard is to use the same time step for all degrees of freedom and adaptive time step controls are usually applied to the complete system.

    The aim of this project is to investigate the kinetics of heterogeneous, e.g. cracked material, in several steps by developing suitable combinations of spatial and temporal mesh adaption strategies.

  • Fracture across Scales: Integrating Mechanics, Materials Science, Mathematics, Chemistry, and Physics (FRASCAL)

    (Third Party Funds Group – Overall project)

    Term: 1. January 2019 - 30. June 2023
    Funding source: DFG / Graduiertenkolleg (GRK)

    The RTG aims to improve understanding of fracture in brittle heterogeneous materials by developing simulation methods able to capture the multiscale nature of failure. With i) its rooting in different scientific disciplines, ii) its focus on the influence of heterogeneities on fracture at different length and time scales as well as iii) its integration of highly specialised approaches into a “holistic” concept, the RTG addresses a truly challenging cross-sectional topic in mechanics of materials. Although various simulation approaches describing fracture exist for particular types of materials and specific time and length scales, an integrated and overarching approach that is able to capture fracture processes in different – and in particular heterogeneous – materials at various length and time resolutions is still lacking. Thus, we propose an RTG consisting of interdisciplinary experts from mechanics, materials science, mathematics, chemistry, and physics that will develop the necessary methodology to investigate the mechanisms underlying brittle fracture and how they are influenced by heterogeneities in various materials. The insights obtained together with the methodological framework will allow tailoring and optimising materials against fracture. The RTG will cover a representative spectrum of brittle materials and their composites, together with granular and porous materials. We will study these at length and time scales relevant to science and engineering, ranging from sub-atomic via atomic and molecular over mesoscale to macroscopic dimensions. Our modelling approaches and simulation tools are based on concepts from quantum mechanics, molecular mechanics, mesoscopic approaches, and continuum mechanics. These will be integrated into an overall framework which will represent an important step towards a virtual laboratory eventually complementing and minimising extensive and expensive experimental testing of materials and components. Within the RTG, young researchers under the supervision of experienced PAs will perform cutting-edge research on challenging scientific aspects of fracture. The RTG will foster synergies in research and advanced education and is intended to become a key element in FAU‘s interdisciplinary research areas “New Materials and Processes” and “Modelling–Simulation–Optimisation”.

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