Modeling fracture in hydrogels
Prof. Maria Cameron, Department of Mathematics, University of Maryland
Modeling and analysis of fracture in various materials has been a problem of great practical importance. Typically, breaking strength and work of fracture of a real material sample is reduced by orders of magnitude by imperfections present in it. Micro-level physics of fracture for some materials such as glass is well-understood, while for others like hydrogel needs yet to be explained. The goal of this work is to design and investigate a model that sheds light on physics of breaking hydrogel. We propose a 2D network model featuring a nonlinear stress-strain relationship and a scatter in equilibrium link lengths. We investigate this model by means of numerical simulations and demonstrate a dramatic reduction in breaking strength compared to that of the corresponding perfect network.