Numerical simulations of fast crack growth in brittle solids Academic Article uri icon


  • Dynamic crack growth is analysed numerically for a plane strain block with an initial central crack subject to tensile loading. The continuum is characterized by a material constitutive law that relates stress and strain, and by a relation between the tractions and displacement jumps across a specified set of cohesive surfaces. The material constitutive relation is that of an isotropic hyperelastic solid. The cohesive surface constitutive relation allows for the creation of new free surface and dimensional considerations introduce a characteristic length into the formulation. Full transient analyses are carried out. Crack branching emerges as a natural outcome of the initial-boundary value problem solution, without any ad hoc assumption regarding branching criteria. Coarse mesh calculations are used to explore various qualitative features such as the effect of impact velocity on crack branching, and the effect of an inhomogeneity in strength, as in crack growth along or up to an interface. The effect of cohesive surface orientation on crack path is also explored, and for a range of orientations zigzag crack growth precedes crack branching. Finer mesh calculations are carried out where crack growth is confined to the initial crack plane. The crack accelerates and then grows at a constant speed that, for high impact velocities, can exceed the Rayleigh wave speed. This is due to the finite strength of the cohesive surfaces. A fine mesh calculation is also carried out where the path of crack growth is not constrained. The crack speed reaches about 45% of the Rayleigh wave speed, then the crack speed begins to oscillate and crack branching at an angle of about 29° from the initial crack plane occurs. The numerical results are at least qualitatively in accord with a wide variety of experimental observations on fast crack growth in brittle solids. © 1994.

published proceedings

  • Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Xu, X., & Needleman, A

citation count

  • 1736

complete list of authors

  • Xu, X-P||Needleman, A

publication date

  • September 1994