Eran Sharon1, Steven P. Gross2, and Jay Fineberg1
Institute of Physics, The
Received 18 September 1995
Measurements in PMMA of both the energy flux into the tip of a moving crack and the total surface area created via the microbranching instability indicate that the instability is the main mechanism for energy dissipation by a moving crack in brittle, amorphous material. Beyond the instability onset, the rate of fracture surface creation is proportional to the energy flux into the crack. At high velocities microbranches create nearly an order of magnitude larger fracture surface than smooth cracks. This mechanism provides an explanation for why the theoretical limiting velocity of a crack is never realized.