Cracks and fingers: Dynamics of ductile fracture in an aqueous foam

Peter S. Stewart, Sascha Hilgenfeldt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fracture of a quasi-two-dimensional aqueous foam by injection of air can occur via two distinct mechanisms, termed brittle and ductile, which are analogous to crack modes observed for crystalline atomic solids such as metals. In the present work we focus on the dynamics and morphology of the ductile process, in which no films between bubbles are broken. A network modeling approach allows detailed analysis of the foam morphology from individual bubbles to the shape of the propagating crack. This crack develops similarly to fingering instabilities in Hele–Shaw cells filled with homogeneous fluids. We show that the observed width and shape of the crack are compatible this interpretation, and that the discreteness of the bubble structure provides symmetry perturbations and limiting scales characteristic of anomalous fingering. The model thus bridges the gap between fracture of the solid foam lattice and instability growth of interfaces in a fluid system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-70
Number of pages13
JournalColloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects
StatePublished - Dec 5 2017


  • Ductile fracture
  • Fingering
  • Foams

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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