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Issue 18, 2011
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Wavy cracks in drying colloidal films

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Fracture mechanics successfully predicts when cracks will grow. Describing the path that cracks follow, however, has remained difficult. The study of crack paths has recently focused on a single experimental system, that of thermally quenched glass, where straight, wavy, helical, and branched cracks appear under different conditions. Several models of crack path prediction have been developed but none is generally accepted. Here we show that slowly oscillating wavy cracks can form during the drying of a colloidal dispersion. These drying films are subject to large stress gradients perpendicular to the mean direction of crack growth. Under these conditions existing models do not predict periodic paths. We show, instead, how to model crack paths by allowing a growing crack to curve towards the direction of maximum energy release rate. Not only does this explain wavy cracks in drying films, and correctly describe the wavelength dependence of our experiments, but it is generally applicable to predicting crack paths in spatially varying stress fields.

Graphical abstract: Wavy cracks in drying colloidal films

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Publication details

The article was received on 26 May 2011, accepted on 19 Jul 2011 and first published on 08 Aug 2011

Article type: Communication
DOI: 10.1039/C1SM05979C
Soft Matter, 2011,7, 7984-7987

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    Wavy cracks in drying colloidal films

    L. Goehring, W. J. Clegg and A. F. Routh, Soft Matter, 2011, 7, 7984
    DOI: 10.1039/C1SM05979C

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