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Issue 8, 2016
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Crack patterns over uneven substrates

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Abstract

Cracks in thin layers are influenced by what lies beneath them. From buried craters to crocodile skin, crack patterns are found over an enormous range of length scales. Regardless of absolute size, their substrates can dramatically influence how cracks form, guiding them in some cases, or shielding regions from them in others. Here we investigate how a substrate's shape affects the appearance of cracks above it, by preparing mud cracks over sinusoidally varying surfaces. We find that as the thickness of the cracking layer increases, the observed crack patterns change from wavy to ladder-like to isotropic. Two order parameters are introduced to measure the relative alignment of these crack networks, and, along with Fourier methods, are used to characterise the transitions between crack pattern types. Finally, we explain these results with a model, based on the Griffith criteria of fracture, that identifies the conditions for which straight or wavy cracks will be seen, and predicts how well-ordered the cracks will be. Our metrics and results can be applied to any situation where connected networks of cracks are expected, or found.

Graphical abstract: Crack patterns over uneven substrates

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Publication details

The article was received on 23 Sep 2015, accepted on 04 Jan 2016 and first published on 06 Jan 2016


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C5SM02389K
Citation: Soft Matter, 2016,12, 2253-2263
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY license
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    Crack patterns over uneven substrates

    P. Nandakishore and L. Goehring, Soft Matter, 2016, 12, 2253
    DOI: 10.1039/C5SM02389K

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      [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry.

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