Unstable cracks trigger asymptotic rupture modes in bimaterial friction

H. Shlomai, D. S. Kammer, M. Adda-Bedia*, R. E. Arias, J. Fineberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The rupture of the interface joining two materials under frictional contact controls their macroscopic sliding. Interface rupture dynamics depend markedly on the mechanical properties of the bulk materials that bound the frictional interface. When the materials are similar, recent experimental and theoretical work has shown that shear cracks described by Linear Elastic Fracture Mechanics (LEFM) quantitatively describe the rupture of frictional interfaces. When the elastic properties of the two materials are dissimilar, many new effects take place that result from bimaterial coupling: the normal stress at the interface is elastodynamically coupled to local slip rates. At low rupture velocities, bimaterial coupling is not very significant and interface rupture is governed by ‘bimaterial cracks’ that are described well by LEFM. As rupture velocities increase, we experimentally and theoretically show how bimaterial cracks become unstable at a subsonic critical rupture velocity, cT. When the rupture direction opposes the direction of applied shear in the softer material, we show that cT is the subsonic limiting velocity. When ruptures propagate in the direction of applied shear in the softer material, we demonstrate that cT provides an explanation for how and when slip pulses (new rupture modes characterized by spatially localized slip) are generated.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number104330
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Bimaterial rupture
  • Earthquake dynamics
  • Fracture
  • Friction


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