Dynamic instabilities in {1 1 1} silicon

D. Sherman*, M. Markovitz, O. Barkai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The phenomena occurring during rapid crack propagation in brittle single crystals was studied by cleaving strip-like silicon specimens along the {1 1 1} low-energy cleavage plane under bending. The experiments reveal phenomena associated with rapid crack propagation in brittle single crystals not previously reported, and new crack path instabilities in particular. In contrast to amorphous materials, the observed instabilities are generated at relatively low velocity, while at high velocity the crack path remains stable. The experiments demonstrate that crack velocity in single crystals can attain the theoretical limit. No evidence for mirror, mist, and hackle instabilities, typical in amorphous materials, was found. The important role played by the atomistic symmetry of the crystals on controlling and generating the surface instabilities is explained; the importance of the velocity and orientation-dependent cleavage energy is discussed. The surface instabilities are generated to satisfy minimum energy dissipation considerations. These findings necessitate a new approach to the fundamentals of dynamic crack propagation in brittle single crystals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-387
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Brittle single crystals
  • Cleavage
  • Crystal symmetry
  • Dynamic fracture
  • Dynamic instabilities


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