Why is nacre strong? II. Remaining mechanical weakness for cracks propagating along the sheets
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In our previous paper (Eur. Phys. J. E 4, 121 (2001)) we proposed a coarse-grained elastic energy for nacre, or stratified structure of hard and soft layers found in certain seashells . We then analyzed a crack running perpendicular to the layers and suggested one possible reason for the enhanced toughness of this substance. In the present paper, we consider a crack running parallel to the layers. We propose a new term added to the previous elastic energy, which is associated with the bending of layers. We show that there are two regimes for the parallel-fracture solution of this elastic energy; near the fracture tip the deformation field is governed by a parabolic differential equation while the field away from the tip follows the usual elliptic equation. Analytical results show that the fracture tip is lenticular, as suggested in a paper on a smectic liquid crystal (P.G. de Gennes, Europhys. Lett. 13, 709 (1990)). On the contrary, away from the tip, the stress and deformation distribution recover the usual singular behaviors ( and 1/, respectively, where x is the distance from the tip). This indicates there is no enhancement in toughness in the case of parallel fracture.
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