M. I. Espanol, D. M. Kochmann, S. Conti and M. Ortiz
Multiscale Modeling & Simulation, 11, 766–794 (2013).
We present a Gamma-convergence analysis of the quasicontinuum method focused on the behavior of the approximate energy functionals in the continuum limit of a harmonic and defect-free crystal. The analysis shows that, under general conditions of stability and boundedness of the energy, the continuum limit is attained provided that the continuum-e. g., finite-element-approximation spaces are strongly dense in an appropriate topology and provided that the lattice size converges to zero more rapidly than the mesh size. The equicoercivity of the quasicontinuum energy functionals is likewise established with broad generality, which, in conjunction with Gamma-convergence, ensures the convergence of the minimizers. We also show under rather general conditions that, for interatomic energies having a clusterwise additive structure, summation or quadrature rules that suitably approximate the local element energies do not affect the continuum limit. Finally, we propose a discrete patch test that provides a practical means of assessing the convergence of quasicontinuum approximations. We demonstrate the utility of the discrete patch test by means of selected examples of application.