Instability in dynamic fracture

Jay Fineberg*, Steven P. Gross, M. Marder, Harry L. Swinney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

385 Scopus citations


Cracks in brittle materials have terminal velocities far below theoretical predictions. To address this problem we have investigated the propagation of cracks in a brittle plastic (polymethylmethacrylate). Velocity measurements with resolution an order of magnitude better than past experiments reveal the existence of a critical velocity at which the velocity begins to oscillate, the mean acceleration drops sharply, and a pattern is formed on the fracture surface. Thus the dynamics of cracks may be governed by a dynamical instability.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)457-460
Number of pages4
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


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