A discrete dislocation analysis of mode I crack growth
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Small scale yielding around a plane strain mode I crack is analyzed using discrete dislocation dynamics. The dislocations are all of edge character, and are modeled as line singularities in an elastic material. At each stage of loading, superposition is used to represent the solution in terms of solutions for edge dislocations in a half-space and a complementary solution that enforces the boundary conditions. The latter is non-singular and obtained from a finite element solution. The lattice resistance to dislocation motion, dislocation nucleation, dislocation interaction with obstacles and dislocation annihilation are incorporated into the formulation through a set of constitutive rules. A relation between the opening traction and the displacement jump across a cohesive surface ahead of the initial crack tip is also specified, so that crack growth emerges naturally from the boundary value problem solution. Material parameters representative of aluminum are employed. For a low density of dislocation sources, crack growth takes place in a brittle manner; for a low density of obstacles, the crack blunts continuously and does not grow. In the intermediate regime, the average near-tip stress fields are in qualitative accord with those predicted by classical continuum crystal plasticity, but with the local stress concentrations from discrete dislocations leading to opening stresses of the magnitude of the cohesive strength. The crack growth history is strongly affected by the dislocation activity in the vicinity of the growing crack tip.