Cohesive-zone laws for void growth - I. Experimental field projection of crack-tip crazing in glassy polymers

Soonsung Hong, Huck Beng Chew, Kyung Suk Kim

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A hybrid framework for inverse analysis of crack-tip cohesive-zone model is developed in this two-part paper to measure cohesive-zone laws of void growth in polymers by combining analytical, experimental, and numerical approaches. This paper focuses on experimental measurements of the cohesive-zone laws for two nonlinear fracture processes in glassy polymers, namely multiple crazing in crack-growth toughening of rubber-toughened high-impact polystyrene (HIPS) and crazing of steady-state crack growth in polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) under a methanol environment. To this end, electronic speckle pattern interferometry (ESPI) is first applied to measure the crack-tip displacement fields surrounding the fracture process zones in these polymers. These fields are subsequently equilibrium smoothed and used in the extraction of the cohesive-zone laws via an analytical solution method of the inverse problem, the planar field projection method (P-FPM) [Hong, S., Kim, K.-S., 2003. Extraction of cohesive-zone laws from elastic far-fields of a cohesive crack tip: a field projection method. Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids 51, 1267-1286]. Results show that the proposed framework of the P-FPM could provide a systematic way of finding the shape of the cohesive-zone laws governed by the different micro-mechanisms in the fracture processes. In HIPS, inter-particle multiple crazing develops and the craze zone broadens ahead of a crack-tip under mechanical loading. The corresponding cohesive-zone relationship of the multiple-craze zone is found to be highly convex, which indicates effectiveness of rubber particle toughening. It is also observed that the effective peak traction, 7 MPa, in the crack-tip cohesive zone of HIPS (30% rubber content) is lower than the uniaxial yield stress of 9 MPa, presumably due to stress multi-axiality effects. In contrast, in PMMA, methanol localizes the crack-tip craze, weakening the craze traction for craze-void initiation to about 9 MPa and the fibril pull-out stress to less than 6 MPa. This reduction in cohesive traction, coupled with a strongly concave traction-separation cohesive-zone relationship, signifies environmental embrittlement of PMMA. These experimentally determined cohesive-zone laws are compared with detailed numerical analyses of effective microscale-void growth ahead of a crack tip in Part II.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1357-1373
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Crazing
  • Fracture mechanisms
  • Inverse problem
  • Optical interferometry
  • Polymeric materials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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