Brittle Fracture Modeling with a Surface Tension Excess Property
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The classical theory of linear elastic fracture mechanics for a quasi-static crack in an infinite linear elastic body has two significant mathematical inconsistencies: it predicts unbounded crack-tip stresses and an elliptical crack opening profile. A new theory of fracture developed by Sendova and Walton, based on extending continuum mechanics to the nanoscale, corrects these erroneous effects. The fundamental attribute of this theory is the use of a dividing surface to describe the material interface. The dividing surface is endowed with an excess property, namely surface tension, which accounts for atomistic effects in the interfacial region. When the surface tension is taken to be a constant, Sendova and Walton show that the theory reduces the crack-tip stress from a square root to a logarithmic singularity and yields a finite angle opening profile. In addition, they show that if the surface tension depends on curvature, the theory completely removes the stress singularity at the crack-tip, for all but countably many values of the two surface tension parameters, and yields a cusp-like opening profile. In this work, we develop a numerical model using the finite element method for the Sendova-Walton fracture theory applied to the classical Griffith crack problem in the case of constant surface tension. We show that the numerical model behaves as predicted by the theory, yielding a reduced crack-tip singularity and a finite opening angle for all nonzero values of the constant surface tension. We also lay the groundwork for the numerical implementation of the curvature-dependent model by constructing an algorithm to determine the appropriate threshold values for the surface tension parameters that guarantee bounded crack-tip stresses. These values can then be directly applied to the forthcoming numerical model.
Ferguson, Lauren (2012). Brittle Fracture Modeling with a Surface Tension Excess Property. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from