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Fracture and the Structure of Silica



Stephen W. Freiman


Not only because of its historic and widespread use in applications where its strength and brittle nature are significant factors, but also because it is homogeneous in composition and structure, and isotropic in its properties, glass is an ideal medium in which to apply concepts of brittle fracture. Vitreous silica is the simplest form of oxide glasses and so represents a model for other glass compositions. While there can be numerous aspects to brittle fracture, this paper will be focused primarily on the phenomenon termed delayed failure, i.e., time-dependent fracture under constant load. We now know that this phenomenon is due to the combined effects of environment and stress causing cracks in the glass (invariably surface damage) to grow slowly with time. From a practical point of view delayed failure significantly affects the design and use of glass structures for which survival over long periods of time is critical. What has been learned about delayed failure in glass is now being applied to other brittle materials as well.The purpose of this paper is twofold, to show how the fracture process is intimately related to the atomic and molecular structure of glasses as well as to pay tribute to the many contributions that Larry Hench and his coworkers have made toward understanding glass structure as well as the fracture process.
Ceramic Transactions


ceramics, crack growth, fracture, modeling, silica


Freiman, S. (2000), Fracture and the Structure of Silica, Ceramic Transactions (Accessed July 14, 2024)


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Created July 1, 2000, Updated February 19, 2017