Quasicontinuum simulation of fracture at the atomic scale

R. Miller, E. B. Tadmor, R. Phillips, M. Ortiz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

218 Scopus citations


We study the problem of atomic scale fracture using the recently developed quasicontinuum method in which there is a systematic thinning of the atomic-level degrees of freedom in regions where they are not needed. Fracture is considered in two distinct settings. First, a study is made of cracks in single crystals, and second, we consider a crack advancing towards a grain boundary (GB) in its path. In the investigation of single crystal fracture, we evaluate the competition between simple cleavage and crack-tip dislocation emission. In addition, we examine the ability of analytic models to correctly predict fracture behaviour, and find that the existing analytical treatments are too restrictive in their treatment of nonlinearity near the crack tip. In the study of GB-crack interactions, we have found a number of interesting deformation mechanisms which attend the advance of the crack. These include the migration of the GB, the emission of dislocations from the GB, and deflection of the crack front along the GB itself. In each case, these mechanisms are rationalized on the basis of continuum mechanics arguments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)607-638
Number of pages32
JournalModelling and Simulation in Materials Science and Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 1998


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