Phase field fracture in elasto-plastic solids: a length-scale insensitive model for quasi-brittle materials

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Journal Article
Computational Mechanics, 2020, 66, (4), pp. 931-961
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Phase-field methods for fracture have been integrated with plasticity for better describing constitutive behaviours. In most of the previous phase-field models, however, the length-scale parameter must be interpreted as a material property in order to match the material strength in experiments. This study presents a phase-field model for fracture coupled with plasticity for quasi-brittle materials with emphasis on insensitivity of the length-scale parameter. The proposed model is formulated using variational principles and implemented numerically in the finite element framework. The effective yield stress is calibrated to vary with the length-scale parameter such that the tensile strength remains the same. Moreover, semi-analytical solutions are derived to demonstrate that the length-scale parameter has a negligible effect on the stress–displacement curve. Five representative examples are considered here to validate the phase-field model for fracture in quasi-brittle materials. The simulated force–displacement curves and crack paths agree well with the corresponding experimental results. Importantly, it is found that the global structural response is insensitive to the length scale though it may influence the size of the failure zone. In most cases, a large length-scale parameter can be used for saving the computational cost by allowing the use of a coarse mesh. On the other hand, a sufficiently small length-scale parameter can be selected to prevent overly diffusive damage, making it possible for the proposed phase-field model to simulate the fracture behaviour with Γ-convergence.
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