Fracture modeling of brittle biomaterials by the phase-field method

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Journal Article
Engineering Fracture Mechanics, 2020, 224
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© 2019 Elsevier Ltd Biomaterials have been extensively used in prosthetic applications for their proven biocompatibility and osseointegration characteristics. Nevertheless, one of the critical issues of some synthetic biomaterials is brittleness prone to experience fracture failure due to low tensile strength and low fracture toughness. This study aims to employ a recently-developed phase-field model to simulate the crack propagation in brittle biomaterials. Unlike discrete fracture modeling methods, the phase-field approach allows simulating crack path in a continuous manner, thereby avoiding remeshing that may not be trivial for complicated fracture surfaces and facilitate iterative procedure commonly required for structural optimization. The phase-field model is formulated to treat the fracture path as a localized region of diffusive damage that can be described in terms of a phase-field function, in which the discreteness in cracked materials is assumed to be smeared. In this study, three representative case studies from the biomedical context, namely a zirconia-based dental bridge (or namely fixed partial denture (FPD)), a ceramic tissue scaffold and an analog saw-bone femur, are employed as illustrative examples. The phase-field modeling results are compared with the in-house experimental tests, demonstrating the effectiveness of the phase-field technique for predicting brittle fracture failure in several typical biomedical case scenarios. The phase-field model provides a useful tool for the computational fracture analysis and design optimization of other brittle biomaterials.
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