From pure mechanics to biomechanics
Ray Ogden’s research studies
Interview to Ray Ogden by Elisabetta Nones
Ray Ogden is
one of the major international experts in the mechanics of solids. He
was invited by Davide Bigoni, head of the Department of Mechanical and
Structural Engineering at the Faculty of Engineering, where he taught a
two-week course. We met him during his stay in Trento and asked him a
few questions on his research studies.
Professor Ogden, you have done research
in the mechanics of solids, in rubber mechanics and in biomechanics.
What is the correlation amongst these different fields?
The common feature amongst these different areas is
the use of similar mathematical tools in the study of the phenomena. My
main fields of interest are: the nonlinear elasticity theory and its
applications, particularly to modelling the material properties of
rubberlike solids, the study of the elastic wave propagation, and
finally biomechanics (including the modelling of the mechanical
properties of soft biological tissues). The applications of my research
are linked to everyday life: deformation of car tires, mechanics of
vibration isolators in buildings to protect from earthquake shocks and
biomechanics of soft biological tissues, such as arteries, and
development of ultra-sound devices for medical applications. I am
presently developing mathematical formulations to explain changes in
arterial wall structures due to high blood pressure.
What do you think about the
professional level of the Italian engineers involved in your research
area? Do you have any collaborations with Italian universities?
I think that compared to the international standard,
the professional level of Italian researchers in this area is quite
high. In Italy and in particular in Trento there are a number of very
good researchers. In addition to Trento, I have had collaborations with
the universities of Lecce, Padova, Perugia and I have taught three
advanced course at the International Centre for Mechanical Sciences in
(CISM). I also have contacts with Italian industries, including Pirelli.
How did you come in contact with the University of Trento?
I met Davide Bigoni when he was still teaching in
Bologna. When Davide moved to Trento he invited me to give two seminars
in 1999 and one of his Ph.D. students spent five months working in
Glasgow under my supervision. Subsequently, I was invited to give a
two-week course on the nonlinear theory of elasticity with application
to structural mechanics. I am enjoying the course quite a lot since the
students are good and are interested in the topic.
A last question: prof. Bigoni told me about your book, which has gained a great success. Could you tell me something about it?
The title of the book is Non-linear elastic deformations.
It was published in 1984 and then re-printed in 1997 by Dover. It is
used by many European and American universities to teach graduate
courses. I think the key of its success is that it addresses a very
technical and specific subject area which has not previously been
covered in such clear detail. Part of the aim of the book was to provide
a general theory that has several engineering applications. In fact, a
good theory is needed in order to interpret results from experiments and
to design suitable experimental