A higher‐order Trace finite element method for shells

Daniel Schöllhammer*, Thomas‐Peter Fries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A higher‐order fictitious domain method (FDM) for Reissner–Mindlin shells is proposed which uses a three‐dimensional background mesh for the discretization. The midsurface of the shell is immersed into the higher‐order background mesh and the geometry is implied by level‐set functions. The mechanical model is based on the tangential differential calculus which extends the classical models based on curvilinear coordinates to implicit geometries. The shell model is described by partial differential equations on manifolds and the resulting FDM may typically be called Trace FEM. The three standard key aspects of FDMs have to be addressed in the Trace FEM as well to allow for a higher‐order accurate method: (i) numerical integration in the cut background elements, (ii) stabilization of awkward cut situations and elimination of linear dependencies, and (iii) enforcement of boundary conditions using Nitsche's method. The numerical results confirm that higher‐order accurate results are enabled by the proposed method provided that the solutions are sufficiently smooth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1217-1238
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering
Issue number5
Early online date28 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2021


  • fictitious domain methods
  • implicit geometries
  • manifolds
  • shells
  • tangential differential calculus
  • Trace FEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Numerical Analysis

Fields of Expertise

  • Information, Communication & Computing

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