Concurrent factors determine toughening in the hydraulic fracture of poroelastic composites
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Brittle materials fail catastrophically. In consequence of their limited flaw-tolerance, failure occurs by localized fracture and is typically a dynamic process. Recently, experiments on epithelial cell monolayers have revealed that this scenario can be significantly modified when the material susceptible to cracking is adhered to a hydrogel substrate. Thanks to the hydraulic coupling between the brittle layer and the poroelastic substrate, such a composite can develop a toughening mechanism that relies on the simultaneous growth of multiple cracks. Here, we study this remarkable behaviour by means of a detailed model, and explore how the material and loading parameters concur in determining the macroscopic toughness of the system. By extending a previous study, our results show that rapid loading conveys material toughness by promoting distributed cracking. Moreover, our theoretical findings may suggest innovative architectures of flaw-insensitive materials with higher toughness.
KeywordsHydraulic fracture Toughening Multiple cracking Brittle layer Hydrogel Cohesive zone
The authors acknowledge the support of the European Research Council (AdG-340685 MicroMotility) and of National Group of Mathematical Physics (GNFM-INdAM) through the initiative “Progetto Giovani”. The authors also thank prof. Robert M. McMeeking for useful discussions on the subject.
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Conflicts of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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