Mechanics of nanocrack: Fracture, dislocation emission, and amorphization

Shan Huang, Sulin Zhang, Ted Belytschko, Sachin S. Terdalkar, Ting Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Understanding the nanoscale fracture mechanisms is critical for tailoring the mechanical properties of materials at small length scales. We perform an atomistic study to characterize the formation and extension of nano-sized cracks. By using atomistic reaction pathway calculations, we determine the energetics governing the brittle and ductile responses of an atomically sharp crack in silicon, involving the competing processes of cleavage bond breaking, dislocation emission, and amorphization by the formation of five- and seven-membered rings. We show that the nanoscale fracture process depends sensitively on the system size and loading method. Our results offer new perspectives on the brittle-to-ductile transition of fracture at the nanoscale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)840-850
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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