Theoretical development and experimental validation of a thermally dissipative cohesive zone model for dynamic fracture of amorphous polymers

Todd W. Bjerke, John Lambros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A thermally dissipative cohesive zone model is developed for predicting the temperature increase at the tip of a crack propagating dynamically in a nominally brittle material exhibiting a cohesive-type failure such as crazing. The model assumes that fracture energy supplied to the crack tip region that is in excess of that needed for the creation of new free surfaces during crack advance is converted to heat within the cohesive zone. Bulk dissipation mechanisms, such as plasticity, are not accounted for. Several cohesive traction laws are examined, and the model is then used to make predictions of crack tip heating at various crack propagation speeds in the nominally brittle amorphous polymer PMMA, observed to fail by a crazing-type mechanism. The heating predictions are compared to experimental data where the temperature field surrounding a high speed crack in PMMA was measured. Measurements are made in real time using a multi-point high speed HgCdTe infrared radiation detector array. At the same time as temperature, simultaneous measurement of fracture energy is made by a strain gauge technique, and crack tip speed is monitored through a resistance ladder method. Material strength can be estimated through uniaxial tension tests, thus minimizing the need for parameter fitting in the stress-opening traction law. Excellent agreement between experiments and theory is found for two of the cohesive traction law temperature predictions, but only for the case where a single craze is active during the dynamic fracture of PMMA, i.e. crack tip speed up to approximately 0.2cR. For higher speed fracture where subsurface damage becomes prominent, the line dissipation model of a cohesive zone is inadequate, and a distributed damage model is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1147-1170
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2003


  • Cohesive zone
  • Dynamic fracture
  • Infrared detectors
  • Polymer craze
  • Thermal dissipation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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