This is an introductory survey of some selected topics in finite elasticity. Virtually no previous experience with the subject is assumed. The kinematics of finite deformation is characterized by the polar decomposition theorem. Euler’s laws of balance and the local field equations of continuum mechanics are described. The general constitutive equation of hyperelasticity theory is deduced from a mechanical energy principle; and the implications of frame invariance and of material symmetry are presented. This leads to constitutive equations for compressible and incompressible, isotropic hyperelastic materials. Constitutive equations studied in experiments by Rivlin and Saunders (1951) for incompressible rubber materials and by Blatz and Ko (1962) for certain compressible elastomers are derived; and an equation characteristic of a class of biological tissues studied in primary experiments by Fung (1967) is discussed. Sample applications are presented for these materials. A balloon inflation experiment is described, and the physical nature of the inflation phenomenon is examined analytically in detail. Results for the different materials are compared. Two major problems of finite elasticity theory are discussed. Some results concerning Ericksen’s problem on controllable deformations possible in every isotropic hyperelastic material are outlined; and examples are presented in illustration of Truesdell’s problem concerning analytical restrictions imposed on constitutive equations. Universal relations valid for all compressible and incompressible, isotropic materials are discussed. Some examples of non-uniqueness, including that of a neo-Hookean cube subject to uniform loads over its faces, are described. Elastic stability criteria and their connection with uniqueness in the theory of small deformations superimposed on large deformations are introduced, and a few applications are mentioned. Some previously unpublished results are presented throughout.

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