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Solid mechanics is the branch of continuum mechanics that studies the behavior of solid materials, especially their motion and deformation under the action of forces, temperature changes, phase changes, and other external or internal agents.
Solid mechanics is fundamental for civil, aerospace, nuclear, and mechanical engineering, for geology, and for many branches of physics such as materials science. It has specific applications in many other areas, such as understanding the anatomy of living beings, and the design of dental prostheses and surgical implants. One of the most common practical applications of solid mechanics is the Euler-Bernoulli beam equation. Solid mechanics extensively uses tensors to describe stresses, strains, and the relationship between them.
A material has a rest shape and its shape departs away from the rest shape due to stress. The amount of departure from rest shape is called deformation, the proportion of deformation to original size is called strain. If the applied stress is sufficiently low (or the imposed strain is small enough), almost all solid materials behave in such a way that the strain is directly proportional to the stress; the coefficient of the proportion is called the modulus of elasticity. This region of deformation is known as the linearly elastic region.
It is most common for analysts in solid mechanics to use linear material models, due to ease of computation. However, real materials often exhibit non-linear behavior. As new materials are used and old ones are pushed to their limits, non-linear material models are becoming more common.
There are four basic models that describe how a solid responds to an applied stress:
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