Gradient Damage and Phase-field Models for Fracture

One of the main research thrusts in our laboratory concerns computational fracture mechanics.  Fracture and failure at large scales represent fascinating phenomena.  When material systems and structures fail, they often do so in catastrophic ways.  We seek to develop simulations of fracture and failure that are physically faithful and robust, such that models can be both calibrated against experimental observations and also have the potential to be genuinely predictive.  Toward these goals, gradient damage and phase-field models of fracture have proven to be one of our workhorses over the past decade.  These methods have been demonstrated to reliably capture fracture and failure phenomena in three dimensions for quasi-brittle systems.  

These techniques are becoming increasingly popular for simulating processes at the mesoscale level. The range of applicability is growing quickly, amongst other reasons because of increasing computer power. Besides solidification and solid-state phase transformations, phase-field models are applied for simulating grain growth, dislocation dynamics, crack propagation, electromigration, solid-state sintering and vesicle membranes in biological applications. In our current research, much attention is given to the quantitative aspects of the simulations, such as parameter assessment and computational efficiency.  We have also worked to broaden the range of applicability of these methods beyond quasi-brittle systems to materials exhibiting much more ductile failure characteristics.  

 Finite element simulation of impact.  Courtesy of Michael Tupek, Sandia National Laboratories.

Simulation of dynamic impact of a ceramic cylinder using gradient damage methods.  


Relevant Papers

  1. R Geelen, Y Liu, J Dolbow and A Rodríguez‐Ferran. An optimization‐based phase‐field method for continuous‐discontinuous crack propagation, International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering, 2018.
  2. R Geelen, Y Liu, T Hu, M Tupek and J Dolbow.  A phase-field formulation for dynamic cohesive fracture, Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering, 2019.
  3. T Hu, J Guilleminot and J Dolbow.  A phase-field model of fracture with frictionless contact and random fracture properties: Application to thin-film fracture and soil dessication. Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering, 2020.
  4. R Geelen, J Plews, M Tupek and J Dolbow. An extended/generalized phase‐field finite element method for crack growth with global‐local enrichment. International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering, 2020.