Cracks in drying colloidal dispersions are typically modeled by elastic fracture mechanics, which assumes that all strains are linear, elastic, and reversible. We tested this assumption in films of a hard latex, by intermittently blocking evaporation over a drying film, thereby relieving the film stress. Here we show that although the deformation around a crack tip has some features of brittle fracture, only 20%-30% of the crack opening is relieved when it is unloaded. Atomic force micrographs of crack tips also show evidence of plastic deformation, such as microcracks and particle rearrangement. Finally, we present a simple scaling argument showing that the yield stress of a drying colloidal film is generally comparable to its maximum capillary pressure, and thus that the plastic strain around a crack will normally be significant. This also suggests that a film’s fracture toughness may be increased by decreasing the interparticle adhesion
To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.