Analysis of intersonic crack growth in unidirectional fiber-reinforced composites

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Recent experiments on dynamic fracture of unidirectional fiber-reinforced graphite/epoxy composite materials showed that, in Mode I, the crack tip velocity could never exceed the shear wave speed, while the crack tip velocity in Mode II not only exceeded the shear wave speed but also approached a stable velocity at which the crack grew for a substantial period of time in experiments. The experimentally obtained fringe patterns also clearly showed the existence of shear shock waves when the crack tip velocity exceeded the shear wave speed. In the present study, we have obtained the asymptotic fields near an intersonically propagating crack tip. It is shown that Mode-I intersonic crack propagation is impossible because the crack tip energy release rate supplied by the elastic asymptotic field is negative and unbounded, which is physically unacceptable since a propagating crack tip cannot radiate out energy. For Mode II, however, it is established that there exists a single crack tip velocity (higher than the shear wave speed) that gives a finite and positive crack tip energy release rate. At all other intersonic crack tip speeds the energy release rate supplied by the elastic asymptotic field is identically zero. This critical crack tip velocity agrees well with the stable crack tip velocity observed in experiments. The synthetically obtained fringe patterns based on the asymptotic field also agree with experimentally obtained fringe patterns, particularly on the existence of the shock waves.

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Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids