Poroelastic toughening in polymer gels: A theoretical and numerical study

Giovanni Noselli*, Alessandro Lucantonio, Robert M. McMeeking, Antonio Desimone

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


We explore the Mode I fracture toughness of a polymer gel containing a semi-infinite, growing crack. First, an expression is derived for the energy release rate within the linearized, small-strain setting. This expression reveals a crack tip velocity-independent toughening that stems from the poroelastic nature of polymer gels. Then, we establish a poroelastic cohesive zone model that allows us to describe the micromechanics of fracture in gels by identifying the role of solvent pressure in promoting poroelastic toughening. We evaluate the enhancement in the effective fracture toughness through asymptotic analysis. We confirm our theoretical findings by means of numerical simulations concerning the case of a steadily propagating crack. In broad terms, our results explain the role of poroelasticity and of the processes occurring in the fracturing region in promoting toughening of polymer gels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-46
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
Early online date21 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016

Bibliographical note

G.N., A.L. and A.D.S. acknowledge support from the European Research Council through AdG-340685 – MicroMotility. Work by R.M.M. was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences (BES) under Award # DE-SC0014427.


  • Crack propagation
  • Fracture
  • Polymer gel
  • Swelling
  • Toughening


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