Standard Article

Fracture Mechanics

  1. Otmar Kolednik

Published Online: 20 JUL 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118097298.weoc096

Wiley Encyclopedia of Composites

Wiley Encyclopedia of Composites

How to Cite

Kolednik, O. 2012. Fracture Mechanics. Wiley Encyclopedia of Composites. 1–16.

Author Information

  1. Austrian Academy of Sciences, Leoben, Austria

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 20 JUL 2012


Fracture mechanics is a continuum mechanics tool for the description of the behavior of cracks in materials and components. The text concentrates on the fundamental understanding of the various parameters that are applied to characterize the crack driving force and the fracture resistance and outlines their physical meanings and their limitations. Then a few important topics are presented, such as the influence of geometry and size on the crack growth resistance, the conditions for unstable crack growth, and the prediction of the crack path. The final focus is the behavior of cracks in inhomogeneous materials, such as composites. Especially interesting here is the understanding, how spatial material property variations influence the crack driving force, since this opens the door for materials and components design, that is, to optimize materials by intentional variations of the material properties so that the fracture resistance increases.


  • configurational force;
  • crack driving force;
  • crack growth resistance;
  • crack path;
  • crack tip opening displacement;
  • elastic energy release rate;
  • elastic-plastic fracture mechanics;
  • energy dissipation rate;
  • fracture toughness;
  • interface crack;
  • J-integral;
  • linear elastic fracture mechanics;
  • material inhomogeneity term;
  • mixed-mode fracture;
  • stress intensity factor;
  • unstable crack growth