Crack front waves in dynamic fracture

J. Fineberg*, E. Sharon, G. Cohen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


A rapidly moving tensile crack is often idealized as a one-dimensional object moving through an ideal two-dimensional material, where the crack tip is a singular point. When a material is translationally invariant in the direction normal to the crack's propagation direction, this idealization is justified. A real tensile crack, however, is a planar object whose leading edge forms a propagating one-dimensional singular front (a 'crack front'). We consider the interaction of a crack front with localized material inhomogeneities (asperities), in otherwise ideal brittle amorphous materials. We review experiments in these materials which indicate that this interaction excites a new type of elastic wave, a front wave, which propagates along the crack front. We will show that front waves (FW) are highly localized nonlinear entities that propagate along the front at approximately the Rayleigh wave speed, relative to the material. We will first review some of their characteristics. We then show that by breaking the translational invariance of the material, FW effectively act as a mechanism by which initially 'massless' cracks acquire inertia.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)55-69
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Fracture
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - May 2003


  • Brittle fracture
  • Crack front waves
  • Localized waves
  • Solitary waves


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