A reformulated flexoelectric theory for isotropic dielectrics

Anqing LI, Shenjie ZHOU, Lu QI, Xi CHEN

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


In flexoelectricity, a strain gradient can induce polarization and a polarization gradient can induce mechanical stress. In this paper, in order to identify the contributions of each strain gradient component, the flexoelectric theory is reformulated by splitting the strain gradient tensor into mutually independent parts. Two sets of orthogonal higher-order deformation metrics are inherited and perfected to reformulate the internal energy density for isotropic materials. The deviatoric stretch gradient and the symmetric part of the rotation gradient are proved to disappear in the coupling of strain gradient to polarization and, moreover, the independent higher-order constants associated with the coupling of strain gradient to strain gradient reduce from five to three. The constitutive relations are then reformulated in terms of the new deformation and electric field metrics, and the governing equations and boundary conditions are derived according to the variational principle of electric enthalpy. On the basis of the present simplified flexoelectric theory, a flexoelectric Bernoulli-Euler beam theory is specified. Solutions for a cantilever subjected to a force at the free end and a voltage cross the thickness are constructed and the size-dependent direct and inverse flexoelectric effects are captured. © 2015 IOP Publishing Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Article number465502
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number46
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • electromechanics
  • Flexoelectricity
  • size effect
  • strain gradient elasticity
  • variational principle


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