Microstructure and fracture in three dimensions

Eric N. Landis*, Edwin N. Nagy, Denis T. Keane

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


A high resolution three dimensional (3D) scanning technique called X-ray microtomography was used to measure internal crack growth in small mortar cylinders under compressive loading. Tomographic scans were made at different load increments in the same specimen. 3D image analysis was used to measure internal crack growth during each load increment. Load-deformation curves were used to measure the corresponding work of the external load on the specimen. Fracture energy was calculated using a linear elastic fracture mechanics approach using the measured surface area of the internal cracks created. The measured fracture energy was of the same magnitude that is typically measured in concrete tensile fracture. A nominally bilinear incremental fracture energy curve was measured. Separate components for crack formation energy and secondary toughening mechanisms are proposed. The secondary toughening mechanisms were found to be about three times the initial crack formation energy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)911-925
Number of pages15
JournalEngineering Fracture Mechanics
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - May 2003


  • Compression fracture
  • Mortar
  • Three dimensional analysis
  • Tomography
  • X-ray

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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