The European Physical Journal Special Topics

, Volume 146, Issue 1, pp 341–356 | Cite as

Slow crack growth: Models and experiments

  • S. Santucci
  • L. Vanel
  • S. CilibertoEmail author


The properties of slow crack growth in brittle materials are analyzed both theoretically and experimentally. We propose a model based on a thermally activated rupture process. Considering a 2D spring network submitted to an external load and to thermal noise, we show that a preexisting crack in the network may slowly grow because of stress fluctuations. An analytical solution is found for the evolution of the crack length as a function of time, the time to rupture and the statistics of the crack jumps. These theoretical predictions are verified by studying experimentally the subcritical growth of a single crack in thin sheets of paper. A good agreement between the theoretical predictions and the experimental results is found. In particular, our model suggests that the statistical stress fluctuations trigger rupture events at a nanometric scale corresponding to the diameter of cellulose microfibrils.


Stress Intensity Factor Crack Length European Physical Journal Special Topic Critical Length Free Energy Density 
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Copyright information

© EDP Sciences/Società Italiana di Fisica/Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire de Physique, CNRS UMR 5672Lyon Cedex 07France

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