Effective toughness of heterogeneous media

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We propose a versatile approach to computing the effective toughness of heterogeneous media. This approach focusses on the material property independent of the details of the boundary condition. The key idea is what we call a surfing boundary condition, where a steadily propagating crack opening displacement is applied as a boundary condition to a large domain while the crack set is allowed to evolve as it chooses. The approach is verified and used to study examples in brittle fracture. We demonstrate that effective toughness is different from effective or weighted surface area of the crack set. Furthermore, we demonstrate that elastic heterogeneity can have a profound effect on fracture toughness: it can be a significant toughening mechanism and it can lead to toughness asymmetry wherein the toughness depends not only on the direction but also on the sense of propagation. The role of length-scale is also discussed. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

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Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids

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