Average crack-front velocity during subcritical fracture propagation in a heterogeneous medium

Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2011 Sep;84(3 Pt 2):036104. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.84.036104. Epub 2011 Sep 9.


We study the average velocity of crack fronts during stable interfacial fracture experiments in a heterogeneous quasibrittle material under constant loading rates and during long relaxation tests. The transparency of the material (polymethylmethacrylate) allows continuous tracking of the front position and relation of its evolution to the energy release rate. Despite significant velocity fluctuations at local scales, we show that a model of independent thermally activated sites successfully reproduces the large-scale behavior of the crack front for several loading conditions.