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The subject of this thesis is the rigorous passage from discrete systems to continuum models via variational methods.
The first part of this work studies a discrete model describing a one-dimensional chain of atoms with finite range interactions of Lennard-Jones type. We derive an expansion of the ground state energy using \(\Gamma\)-convergence. In particular, we show that a variant of the Cauchy-Born rule holds true for the model under consideration. We exploit this observation to derive boundary layer energies due to asymmetries of the lattice at the boundary or at cracks of the specimen. Hereby we extend several results obtained previously for models involving only nearest and next-to-nearest neighbour interactions by Braides and Cicalese and Scardia, Schlömerkemper and Zanini.
The second part of this thesis is devoted to the analysis of a quasi-continuum (QC) method. To this end, we consider the discrete model studied in the first part of this thesis as the fully atomistic model problem and construct an approximation based on a QC method. We show that in an elastic setting the expansion by \(\Gamma\)-convergence of the fully atomistic energy and its QC approximation coincide. In the case of fracture, we show that this is not true in general. In the case of only nearest and next-to-nearest neighbour interactions, we give sufficient conditions on the QC approximation such that, also in case of fracture, the minimal energies of the fully atomistic energy and its approximation coincide in the limit.

The limiting behaviour of a one‐dimensional discrete system is studied by means of Γ‐convergence. We consider a toy model of a chain of atoms. The interaction potentials are of Lennard‐Jones type and periodically or stochastically distributed. The energy of the system is considered in the discrete to continuum limit, i.e. as the number of atoms tends to infinity. During that limit, a homogenization process takes place. The limiting functional is discussed, especially with regard to fracture. Secondly, we consider a rescaled version of the problem, which yields a limiting energy of Griffith's type consisting of a quadratic integral term and a jump contribution. The periodic case can be found in [8], the stochastic case in [6,7].