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Phys Rev Lett. 2005 Sep 9;95(11):115501. Epub 2005 Sep 6.

Atomic scale origin of crack resistance in brittle fracture.

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INFM-SLACS Sardinian Laboratory for Computational Materials Science and Dipartimento di Fisica, Università di Cagliari, Cittadella Universitaria, I-09042 Monserrato, Ca, Italy.


We investigate the physical meaning of the intrinsic crack resistance in the Griffith theory of brittle fracture by means of atomic-scale simulations. By taking cubic SiC as a typical brittle material, we show that the widely accepted identification of intrinsic crack resistance with the free surface energy underestimates the energy-release rate. The strain dependence of the Young modulus and surface energy, as well as allowance for lattice trapping, improve the estimate of the crack resistance. In the smallest scale limit, crack resistance can be fitted by an empirical elastoplastic model.

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