Fluctuation-based fracture mechanics of heterogeneous materials

T Mulla and RJM Pellenq and FJ Ulm, PHYSICAL REVIEW E, 106, 065003 (2022).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.106.065003

We present results of a hybrid analytical-simulation investigation of the fracture resistance of heterogeneous materials. We show that bond- energy fluctuations sampled by Monte Carlo simulations in the semigrand canon-ical ensemble provide a means to rationalize the complexity of heterogeneous fracture processes, encompassing probability and percolation theories of fracture. For a number of random and textured model materials, we derive upper and lower bounds of fracture resistance and link bond fracture fluctuations to statistical descriptors of heterogeneity, such as two-point correlation functions, to identify the origin of toughening mechanisms. This includes a shift from short-to long-range interactions of bond fracture processes in random systems to the transition from critical to subcritical bond fracture percolation in textured materials and the activation of toughness reserves at compliant interfaces. Induced by elastic mismatch, they connect to a number of disparate experimental observations, including toughening of brittle solids by deformable polymers or organics in, e.g., gas shale, nacre; stress-induced transformational toughening in ceramics; and toughening of sparse elastic networks in hydrogels, to name a few.

Return to Publications page