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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Aug 28;115(35):8665-8670. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1802831115. Epub 2018 Aug 13.

Controlling fracture cascades through twisting and quenching.

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Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139.
Department of Mathematics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139.
Université Aix Marseille, CNRS, Institut de Recherche sur les Phénomènes Hors Équilibre, F-13384 Marseille, France.
CNRS/MIT/AMU Joint Laboratory MultiScale Materials Science for Energy and Environment, MIT Energy Initiative, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139.
Department of Mathematics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139;


Fracture fundamentally limits the structural stability of macroscopic and microscopic matter, from beams and bones to microtubules and nanotubes. Despite substantial recent experimental and theoretical progress, fracture control continues to present profound practical and theoretical challenges. While bending-induced fracture of elongated rod-like objects has been intensely studied, the effects of twist and quench dynamics have yet to be explored systematically. Here, we show how twist and quench protocols may be used to control such fracture processes, by revisiting Feynman's observation that dry spaghetti typically breaks into three or more pieces when exposed to large pure bending stresses. Combining theory and experiment, we demonstrate controlled binary fracture of brittle elastic rods for two distinct protocols based on twisting and nonadiabatic quenching. Our experimental data for twist-controlled fracture agree quantitatively with a theoretically predicted phase diagram, and we establish asymptotic scaling relations for quenched fracture. Due to their general character, these results are expected to apply to torsional and kinetic fracture processes in a wide range of systems.


elastic rods; fracture cascade; scaling laws

[Available on 2019-02-28]

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