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Tortuosity of Fracture Surfaces in Composite Microstructures



Fiber reinforced composites are commonly used as structural materials in the aerospace industry. Due to safety requirements on the industry, materials are rigorously tested, requiring both schedule and financial cost to the design and manufacturing timeline. Thus, a computational suite allowing for “virtual testing” is preferred, which could allow for part of the testing to be performed via computer simulation. One barrier to this paradigm shift is the accurate prediction of damage evolution within these materials. In this contribution, we focus on predicting the fracture surface at the scale of the microstructure. The dependence of the tortuosity of the fracture surface through microstructures of various sizes and volume fractions is explored by determining a cleaving crack path requiring minimal fracture energy for each microstructure. A mathematical graph theory approach is used to calculate the minimal energy crack path.

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