An experimental study of mixed mode crack initiation and growth in functionally graded materials

J. Abanto-Bueno, J. Lambros

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Quasi-static mixed mode crack initiation and growth in functionally graded materials (FGMs) was studied through fracture experiments on polymer-based FGMs manufactured by selective ultraviolet irradiation poly(ethylene carbon monoxide) - a photo-sensitive copolymer that becomes more brittle and stiffer under ultraviolet irradiation. The objective of the study was to determine whether crack kinking criteria for homogeneous materials, e.g., maximum hoop stress criterion, also hold for FGMs. Single edge notched tension specimens with different spatial variations of Young's modulus, failure stress and failure strain, were tested. Near tip mode mixity was introduced either by inclining the crack to the remote loading direction, as in the case of homogeneous materials, or to the direction of material gradient, or both. A full-field digital image correlation technique was used to measure in real-time the displacement field around the crack tip while it propagated through the graded material, and to extract the fracture parameters of stress intensity factor KI and KII, and the T-stress. It was found that the nonsingular T-stress term in the asymptotic expansion for stresses plays a very important role in accurately measuring fracture parameters. It was also found that the maximum tangential stress criterion can be applied to the case of FGMs to predict crack kinking provided that the effect of the T-stress is accounted for and the process zone size is small compared to the intrinsic material gradient length scale. However, for accurate crack path prediction at a length scale comparable to the material gradient, detailed material property information is required. In general, the crack will propagate towards a region that exhibits less fracture toughness, but, unlike the case of homogeneous materials, along a path where KII is not necessarily equal to zero.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-196
Number of pages18
JournalExperimental Mechanics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • Digital image correlation
  • Functionally graded materials
  • Mixed mode fracture
  • Poly (ethylene carbon monoxide)
  • T-stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering

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