What is Multiphysics Simulation?

For many engineering analyses it’s sufficient to focus on a single type of physics such as structural mechanics, heat transfer, fluid dynamics, acoustics, or electromagnetics.  However, there are many problems where multiple physics fields are important and interact, which means they must be considered together to achieve accurate enough engineering predictions.

The use of engineering simulation to analyze such problems requires multiphysics simulation, in which multiple physical fields concurrently drive the behavior of a design and are coupled according to different interaction mechanisms. Some common examples of multiphysics include:

  • Fluid-structure interaction, such as aeroelasticity, when an elastic structure is deformed by fluid flow
  • Electromechanical interaction, such in piezoelectric materials operating at RF frequencies
  • Structural-acoustics interaction, where vibrating structures interact with acoustic waves in an adjacent fluid medium

With the ever-increasing compute power available for engineering simulation, the range of multiphysics applications that can be successfully simulated continues to grow. Perhaps the next great advances in this area will be (1) solvers with sufficient computational scalability to achieve realistic multiphysics simulation of highly complex industrial products and devices, and (2) workflows that make powerful multiphysics simulation more accessible and robust for a broader range of engineers.