In brittle-matrix composites cracking of the matrix is often accompanied by bridging of the crack surfaces. The bridging will reduce the net stress intensity factor at the crack tip and consequently increase the toughness of the composite material. The bridging mechanism is due to for example unbroken whiskers, fibres, ductile particles or interlocking grains.
Analysis of the bridging mechanism in cracked structures is conveniently carried out using the concept of cohesive zone modelling. In this case the action of the bridging elements is replaced by a distribution of forces, so called cohesive forces trying to close the crack. The commonly used approach in such modelling has been to replace the action from individual bridging elements by a continuous spatially independent distribution of closing tractions whose magnitude is a function of the crack opening displacement only.
In this paper the influence of the spatial distribution of bridging elements is considered for plane crack problems. The cross section of the bridging elements is assumed to be circular and the distance between the different bridging elements is determined by the volume fraction, the radius and the geometrical distribution of the bridging elements.
Damage resistance curves have been calculated for typical whiskers-reinforced ceramic composites, and the results from the present spatially dependent models are compared with results from calculations with spatially independent models. The influence of the radius of the bridging element, the volume fraction of whiskers and the material properties are illustrated and the use of spatially independent models is discussed.
Wiley , 1995. Vol. 18, no 10, 1213-1230 p.