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Challenges in computational fracture mechanics: crack branching and fragmentation, and fracture in active materials

Final Activity Report Summary - COMPFRAC (Challenges in computational fracture mechanics: crack branching and fragmentation, and fracture in active materials)

Computer simulation of material behaviour allows us to confront theories with experiments, as well as predict the material behaviour in situations where experiments are difficult or just impossible. This includes how materials break into pieces under high-speed impact, how nano-structures sustain loads and develop intricate deformation patterns, or how the reliability of smart active materials is hindered by complex microstructure formation in the vicinity of cracks. The work performed in this International Reintegration Grant addresses each of these issues.

We have carefully examined the predictive ability of models and algorithms to simulate dynamic fracture phenomena by tightly comparing ad hoc experiments with the simulations. We have unveiled through simulation the complex buckling patterns that multi-walled carbon nanotubes develop when deformed. These patterns had only partially been observed experimentally, but the mechanical consequences (a softening of their response) predicted by our theory are consistent with previous observations.

We have simulated for the first time the full complexity of the microstructure formation as a crack propagates through a ferroelectric ceramic. These research lines have resulted in high-impact publications and have successfully attracted funding at national and European level. Furthermore, one of the key objectives of the IRG scheme has been accomplished as the researcher has successfully integrated in the local academic and research system.