Stability and roughness of tensile cracks in disordered materials

E. Katzav*, M. Adda-Bedia

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


We study the stability and roughness of propagating cracks in heterogeneous brittle two-dimensional elastic materials. We begin by deriving an equation of motion describing the dynamics of such a crack in the framework of linear elastic fracture mechanics, based on the Griffith criterion and the principle of local symmetry. This result allows us to extend the stability analysis of Cotterell and Rice to disordered materials. In the stable regime we find stochastic crack paths. Using tools of statistical physics, we obtain the power spectrum of these paths and their probability distribution function and conclude that they do not exhibit self-affinity. We show that a real-space fractal analysis of these paths can lead to the wrong conclusion that the paths are self-affine. To complete the picture, we unravel a systematic bias in such real-space methods and thus contribute to the general discussion of reliability of self-affine measurements.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number052402
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number5
StatePublished - 11 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


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