Exploring the fracture toughness of tessellated materials with the discrete-element method

[+] Author and Article Information
Najmul Abid

Apt:1101 2250 Rue Guy, H3H2M3 Montreal, QC H3H2M3 Canada najmul.abid@mail.mcgill.ca

Florent Hannard

Department of Mechanical Engineering 845 Sherbrooke St W. Montreal, QC H3A 0G4 Canada florent.hannard@gmail.com

John William Pro

Department of Mechanical Engineering 845 Sherbrooke St. W Montreal, QC H3A 0G4 Canada will.pro87@gmail.com

Francois Barthelat

University of Colorado Boulder Boulder, CO 80309 francois.barthelat@colorado.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Applied Mechanics Division of ASME for publication in the Journal of Applied Mechanics. Manuscript received April 2, 2019; final manuscript received May 30, 2019; published online xx xx, xxxx. Assoc. Editor: Thomas Siegmund.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4044015 History: Received April 02, 2019; Accepted May 31, 2019


Architectured materials contain highly controlled structures and morphological features at length scales intermediate between the microscale and the size of the component. In dense architectured materials, stiff building blocks of well-defined size and shape are periodically arranged and bonded by weak but deformable interfaces. The interplay between the architecture of the materials and the interfaces between the blocks can be tailored to control the propagation of cracks while maintaining high stiffness. Interestingly, natural materials such as seashells, bones, or teeth make extensive use of this strategy. While their architecture can serve as inspiration for the design of new synthetic materials, a systematic exploration of architecture-property relationships in architectured materials is still lacking. In this study, we used the discrete element method (DEM) to explore the fracture mechanics of several hundreds of 2D tessellations composed of rigid “tiles” bonded by weaker interfaces. We explored crack propagation and fracture toughness in Voronoi-based tessellations (to represent intergranular cracking in polycrystalline materials), tessellations based on regular polygons, and tessellations based on brick-and-mortar. We identified several toughening mechanisms including crack deflection, crack tortuosity, crack pinning and process zone toughening. These models show that periodic architectures can achieve higher toughness compared to random microstructures, that the toughest architectures are also the most anisotropic, and that tessellations based on brick and mortar are the toughest. These findings can serve as initial guidelines in the development of new architectured materials for toughness.

Copyright © 2019 by ASME
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