Data_Sheet_1_Coupled Evolution of Preferential Paths for Force and Damage in the Pre-failure Regime in Disordered and Heterogeneous, Quasi-Brittle Granular Materials.pdf
A disordered and heterogeneous, quasi-brittle granular material can withstand certain levels of internal damage before global failure. This robustness depends not just on the bond strengths but also on the topology and redundancy of the bonded contact network, through which forces and damage propagate. Despite extensive studies on quasi-brittle failure, there still lacks a unified framework that can quantitatively characterize and model the interdependent evolution of damage and force transmission. Here we develop a framework to do so. It is data-driven, multiscale and relies solely on the contact strengths and topology of the contact network for material properties. The discrete element method (DEM) was used to directly simulate quasi-brittle materials like concrete under uniaxial tension. Concrete was modeled as a random heterogeneous 2-phase and 3-phase material composed of aggregate particles, cement matrix and interfacial transitional zones with experimental-based meso-structure from X-ray micro-CT-images of real concrete. We uncover evidence of an optimized force transmission, characterized by two novel transmission patterns that predict and explain the coupled evolution of force and damage pathways from the microstructural to the macroscopic level. The first comprises the shortest possible percolating paths that can transmit the global force transmission capacity. These paths reliably predict tensile force chains. The second pattern is the flow bottleneck, a path in the optimized route that is prone to congestion and is where the macrocrack emerges. The cooperative evolution of preferential pathways for damage and force casts light on why sites of highest concentrations of stress and damage in the nascent stages of pre-failure regime do not provide a reliable indicator of the ultimate location of the macrocrack.
Read the peer-reviewed publication