Konstantinos Garyfallogiannis, Prashant K Purohit, John L Bassani


The rupture of hydrogels and swellable elastomers involves large deformations, and there exists a large literature devoted to their experimental characterization including methods for measuring and enhancing fracture toughness. Analytical investigations of the fracture of hydrogels have recognized the importance of large deformations and the contributions of liquid flow, but they have largely been restricted to plane-strain formulations that ignore through-thickness effects. In this paper, boundary–initial value problems for cracked specimens are solved in plane-strain and three dimensions for both permeable and impermeable boundary conditions and various rates of loading. The transient stress, strain and chemical potential fields near the crack tip/front are found to be notably different than the asymptotic solutions of linear poroelasticity and large deformation plane-strain formulations. The energy release rate is computed using a poroelastic path-independent integral (J∗), and generally that also is a function of the liquid flow. It is shown for moderately thin three-dimensional specimens that liquid flow is largely in the out-of-plane direction under permeable boundaries and largely in-plane for impermeable boundaries; thus, liquid flow makes larger contributions to the energy release in the latter. In agreement with experiments, the energy release rate tends to be larger at higher loading rates due to the contributions of liquid flow. Finally, criteria for crack growth based on the critical stretch ahead of the crack are adopted to predict the critical energy release rate as a function of solid volume fraction, and the possibility of a non-monotone dependence of energy release on solid volume fraction is uncovered. The methods presented in this paper can be utilized to analyze a wide variety of problems in the rupture of hydrogels including applications to soft tissues and fibrous gels.


Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids : https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmps.2022.105009