Continuum stress intensity factors from atomistic fracture simulations

MA Wilson and SJ Grutzik and M Chandross, COMPUTER METHODS IN APPLIED MECHANICS AND ENGINEERING, 354, 732-749 (2019).

DOI: 10.1016/j.cma.2019.05.050

Stress intensity factors (SIFs) are used in continuum fracture mechanics to quantify the stress fields surrounding a crack in a homogeneous material in the linear elastic regime. Critical values of the SIFs define an intrinsic measure of the resistance of a material to propagate a crack. At atomic scales, however, fracture occurs as a series of atomic bonds breaking, differing from the continuum description. As a consequence, a formal analog of the continuum SIFs calculated from atomistic simulations can have spatially localized, microstructural contributions that originate from varying bond configurations. The ability to characterize fracture at the atomic scale in terms of the SIFs offers both an opportunity to probe the effects of chemistry, as well as how the addition of a microstructural component affects the accuracy. We present a novel numerical method to determine SIFs from molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. The accuracy of this approach is first examined for a simple model, and then applied to atomistic simulations of fracture in amorphous silica. MD simulations provide time and spatially dependent SIFs, with results that are shown to be in good agreement with experimental values for fracture toughness in silica glass. (C) 2019 Published by Elsevier B.V.

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