Mohr’s circle is explained below with a brief explanation of each terminology for a better understanding of the concept. Here you will learn about the basics of Mohr’s circle, how to plot it, its uses, and its importance in advanced engineering. Let’s get started!

## What is Mohr’s Circle? Definition

### Mohr’s Circle Definition

Mohr’s circle is a **two-dimensional graphical representation of transformation equations for plane stress**.

- This graphical representation enables us to
**visualize**the**relationship between the normal and shear stresses**that acts on various inclined planes at a point in a stressed body. - It can also be used to
**calculate principal stresses, maximum shear stresses, and stresses on inclined planes**.

This representation has been created by** Otto Mohr** and based on his name, the circle is named as **Mohr’s circle.**

Let’s see the practical approach and correlation between the physical object and the cycle.

In this process, a small square is considered for derivations, applications, etc. Now, what is this small square?

Considerations are as follows,

- A small square is a very small portion of the main object.
- Take a cylindrical iron rod and image a very small portion as shown in Fig. 1
- Now, if force, F is applied along the length, the entire object, as well as the small sections, will also be subjected to that force.
- So, tensile stress (
**σ**) will be acted on the small object. - if the iron rod is subjected to a torque, T, then a small object will also be subjected to that torque, and shear stress (τ) will be acted as shown in Fig. 1

### Terminology Used for Mohr’s Circle Explanation

#### Principal Plane

To understand it in the simplest way, Principal Plane means a plane on which stress value normal to the plane that is normal stress value is maximum.

#### Normal Stress

It is the stress value perpendicular to a plane.

#### Principal Stress

The normal stress value in the principal plane is maximum, this stress is called principal stress.

#### Shear Stress

The stress acted along the plane or perpendicular to the normal stress.

#### Continuum

A branch of mechanics that deals with the mechanical behavior of materials is considered as a continuous mass.

#### Cauchy stress tensor

It is used for determining stress analysis caused by small deformations in the material bodies.

**According to Cauchy stress tensor, the stress at any point in an object assumed as a continuum can be completely defined by nine stress components**.

The stress distribution is determined using the **coordinate system represented by (x, y)** we need to calculate the stress component at point O at the new position achieved by the displacement of the object due to stress represented by (x’, y’).

To **find the normal stress** and the **shear stress** acting on a particular point, tensor transformation is performed.

**Mohr’s circle** is the **graphical representation** **of the transformation law for Cauchy stress tensor**.

## Mohr’s Circle for 2D Stress

In a two-dimensional state, three stress components namely – Normal stresses **σ**_{x} and **σ**_{y} and Shear stress τ_{xy }give the stress tensor at any given point O.

The Cauchy stress tensor can be written in a** two-by-two symmetric matrix:**

Our aim is to find the stress components involved using the Mohr’s circle on a rotated coordinate system i.e. (x’, y’). The rotated plane makes an angle θ with the original plane (x, y).

## Mohr’s Circle Equation

Consider a two-dimensional material element around point O with a certain unit area. Using the **equilibrium forces** on the given element, the magnitude of the normal stress σ_{n }and the shear stress τ_{n }can be determined by:

*σ*_{n}= 1/2 (*σ*_{x }+_{ }*σ*_{y}) + 1/2 (*σ*_{x }–*σ*_{y}) cos2θ + 𝜏_{xy}sin2θ- 𝜏
_{n }= – 1/2 (*σ*_{x }–*σ*_{y}) sin2θ + 𝜏_{xy}cos2θ

These equations are obtained by applying the tensor transformation law on the Cauchy stress tensor.

Let’s derive the equation and find out how we get the above equations:

**Stress tensor transformation law is stated as**,

**σ’ = AσA ^{T } **

Expanding the right-hand side,

As σ_{x’ }= σ_{n }and τ_{x’y’} = τ_{n,}

We get,

*σ*_{n}= 1/2 (*σ*_{x }+*σ*_{y}) + 1/2 (*σ*_{x }–*σ*_{y}) cos2θ + 𝜏_{xy}sin2θ- 𝜏
_{n }= – (*σ*_{x }–*σ*_{y}) sinθ cosθ + 𝜏_{xy}(cos^{2}θ – sin^{2}θ)

Where,

[cos^{2}θ – sin^{2}θ = cos2θ, sin2θ = 2sinθ cosθ]

The above two equations are the parametric equation of Mohr’s circle.

- 2θ = Parameter
- σ
_{n }& τ_{n}= Coordinates

The points on the **Mohr’s circle can be found by choosing the coordinates with σ _{n }and τ_{n }and giving the values to the parameter θ.**

To get the non-parametric equation of Mohr’s circle, we eliminate the parameter 2θ,

*σ*_{n}= 1/2 (*σ*_{x }+*σ*_{y}) + 1/2 (*σ*_{x }–*σ*_{y}) + 𝜏_{xy}and- 𝜏
_{n }= – 1/2 (*σ*_{x }–*σ*_{y}) + 𝜏_{xy}

The above equations can be rearranged into one by taking σ_{n }and τ_{n} in an equation and then squaring it:-

- [
*σ*_{n}– 1/2 (*σ*_{x }+*σ*_{y})]^{2}+ 𝜏_{n}^{2}= [1/2 (*σ*_{x }–*σ*_{y})]^{2 }+ 𝜏_{xy}^{2} - (
*σ*_{n}–*σ*_{avg })^{2}+ 𝜏_{n}^{2}= R^{2}

Hence,

- R =√[(
*σ*_{n}–*σ*_{avg })^{2}+ 𝜏_{n}^{2}] - R =√[{
*σ*_{n}– ()/2*σ*_{x }+*σ*_{y}_{ }}^{2}+ 𝜏_{n}^{2}]

Where, *σ*_{avg} = (* σ_{x }+σ_{y}*)/2

The equation of the Mohr’s circle can be given by –

(x – a)^{2 }+ (y – b)^{2} = r^{2}

r = R (radius of the circle)

(a,b) = (σ_{avg}, 0) Coordinates in the (σ_{n,} τ_{n}) coordinate system.

## How to Draw Mohr’s Circle?

Now, after deriving the equation for Mohr’s circle let’s learn how to Draw/Plot it!

To take an example we take an **elastic element where the signs of the Normal stresses σ _{x} & σ_{y }are positive** (Tension and stress going out of the surface) and

**Shear stress τ**is negative (stress coming in on the surface) as shown in the figure.

_{xy}Steps needed to be followed for the construction of Mohr’s circle are given below:-

**Step#1**

- Draw the horizontal and vertical axis (x, y).

**Step#2**

- Measure the values of σ
_{x}& σ_{y}along the horizontal (y) axis based on their sign convention and mark them as shown in Fig. 5.

**Step#3**

- Draw a vertical line of τ
_{xy}at point C and name it as shown in Fig. 6. (Project the line up if it is positive and down if it is negative).

**Step#4**

- Find the midpoint between points A and B as shown in Fig. 7.
- Draw the diagonal CD passing through the midpoint M.

**Step#5**

- Draw the circle with its centre M and passing through the points C and D as shown in Fig. 8 with its radius MC and MD.

**Step#6**

- Mohr’s circle is ready – to get the principal stress σ
_{1 }measure OE (the maximum value) - To get the principal stress σ
_{2}measure OF (the minimum value) as shown in Fig. 9. - τ
_{max}value can be found by measuring the radius of the circle.

**Step#7**

- The value of angle 2θ is shown in the Fig. 10 below.

**Step#8**

- The triangle DBM have the following elements as shown in Fig. 11:

## Mohr’s Circle Example & Calculation

Now that you have learned how to draw Mohr’s circle and get the values from it.

Let’s take an example to understand it better.

For the below given elastic element draw Mohr circle of stress and find the maximum and minimum stress values.

From the diagram given above we get:

- σ
_{x}= 10 N/mm^{2} - σ
_{y}= -20 N/mm^{2} - τ
_{xy }= -8 N/mm^{2}

Now draw the Mohr’s circle based on the values given above:-

σ_{1} = 12 N/mm^{2}

σ_{2} = -22 N/mm^{2}

Let’s check the results using the principal stress equation:

*σ*_{1,2 }= [10 + (-20)]/2 ± √[{((10 – (-10))/2}^{2}+ (-8)^{2}]*σ*_{1,2 }= – 5 ± √[(15)^{2}+ (-8)^{2}]*σ*_{1,2 }= – 5 ± 17

σ_{1} = 12 N/mm^{2}

σ_{2} = -22 N/mm^{2}

Thus, we can see that we got the same results as we got through Mohr circle method.

## Mohr’s Circle Application

Let’s see few applications,

- With advanced mechanics and the development of high-end design and analysis software, the use of Mohr’s circle to find stress at a given point has been decreasing.
- Mohr’s circle finds its use in the Structural Geology for the determination of elastic states for lithospheric stress.
- It helps to indicate the strength of different kinds of materials.
- To calculate the strength of soil, structural members, etc.

## When Does a Mohr’s Circle become a Point?

- Any circle becomes a point when its radius becomes zero.
- In case of Mohr circle the radius becomes zero when the principal stresses acting on the element are same and alike. Both the normal stress should be either tensile or compressive having the same value.
- The value of shear stress should also be zero to turn Mohr’s circle in to a point.

## Conclusion

We have learned all about Mohr circle in the above article, this knowledge can be used for the construction of Mohr circle with the values given and finding the principal stresses acting on it.

Mohr’s circle is an easy method of finding the stress acting on a point on an elastic element with minimal calculations.

Further Study

Refer to a nice book on Mohr Circles, Stress Paths and Geotechnics for detail learnings.

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