Dynamics of Simple Cracks

Eran Bouchbinder,1 Jay Fineberg,2 and  M. Marder3


1Department of Chemical Physics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100,



2Racah Institute of Physics, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91904, Israel

3Center for Nonlinear Dynamics and Department of Physics, The University of Texas

at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712; email: marder@mail.utexas.edu


Annu. Rev. Condens. Matter Phys. 2010. 1:371–95

First published online as a Review in Advance on March 3, 2010

The Annual Review of Condensed Matter Physics is

online at conmatphys.annualreviews.org

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Key Words

fracture mechanics, nonlinear dynamics, mechanics, elasticity, material failure



Cracks are the major vehicle for material failure and often exhibit rather complex dynamics. The laws that govern their motion have remained an object of constant study for nearly a century. The simplest kind of dynamic crack is a single crack that moves along a straight line. We first briefly review the current understanding of this “simple” object.We then critically examine the assumptions of the classic, scale-free theory of dynamic fracture and note when it works and how it may fail if certain assumptions are relaxed. Several examples are provided in which the introduction of physical

scales into this scale-free theory profoundly affects both a crack’s structure and the resulting dynamics.