Abstract: A microstructure-dependent Timoshenko beam model is developed using a variational formulation. It is based on a modified couple stress theory and Hamilton's principle. The new model contains a material length scale parameter and can capture the size effect, unlike the classical Timoshenko beam theory. Moreover, both bending and axial deformations are considered, and the Poisson effect is incorporated in the current model, which differ from existing Timoshenko beam models. The newly developed non-classical beam model recovers the classical Timoshenko beam model when the material length scale parameter and Poisson's ratio are both set to be zero. In addition, the current Timoshenko beam model reduces to a microstructure-dependent Bernoulli–Euler beam model when the normality assumption is reinstated, which also incorporates the Poisson effect and can be further reduced to the classical Bernoulli–Euler beam model. To illustrate the new Timoshenko beam model, the static bending and free vibration problems of a simply supported beam are solved by directly applying the formulas derived. The numerical results for the static bending problem reveal that both the deflection and rotation of the simply supported beam predicted by the new model are smaller than those predicted by the classical Timoshenko beam model. Also, the differences in both the deflection and rotation predicted by the two models are very large when the beam thickness is small, but they are diminishing with the increase of the beam thickness. Similar trends are observed for the free vibration problem, where it is shown that the natural frequency predicted by the new model is higher than that by the classical model, with the difference between them being significantly large only for very thin beams. These predicted trends of the size effect in beam bending at the micron scale agree with those observed experimentally. Finally, the Poisson effect on the beam deflection, rotation and natural frequency is found to be significant, which is especially true when the classical Timoshenko beam model is used. This indicates that the assumption of Poisson's effect being negligible, which is commonly used in existing beam theories, is inadequate and should be individually verified or simply abandoned in order to obtain more accurate and reliable results.
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