Scaling of structural failure

Zdeněk P. Bažant, Er Ping Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

310 Scopus citations


This article attempts to review the progress achieved in the understanding of scaling and size effect in the failure of structures. Particular emphasis is placed on quasibrittle materials for which the size effect is important and complicated. After reflections on the long history of size effect studies, attention is focused on three main types of size effects, namely the statistical size effect due to randomness of strength, the energy release size effect, and the possible size effect due to fractality of fracture or microcracks. Definitive conclusions on the applicability of these theories are drawn. Subsequently, the article discusses the application of the known size effect law for the measurement of material fracture properties, and the modeling of the size effect by the cohesive crack model, nonlocal finite element models and discrete element models. Extensions to compression failure and to the rate-dependent material behavior are also outlined. The damage constitutive law needed for describing a microcracked material in the fracture process zone is discussed. Various applications to quasibrittle materials, including concrete, sea ice, fiber composites, rocks and ceramics are presented. There are 377 references included in this article.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-627
Number of pages35
JournalApplied Mechanics Reviews
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering


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