Crack Initiation in Viscoelastic Materials
In viscoelastic materials, individually short-lived bonds collectively result in a mechanical resistance which is long lived but finite as, ultimately, cracks appear. Here, we provide a microscopic mechanism by which a critical crack length emerges from the nonlinear local bond dynamics. Because of this emerging length scale, macroscopic viscoelastic materials fracture in a fundamentally different manner from microscopically small systems considered in previous models. We provide and numerically verify analytical equations for the dependence of the critical crack length on the bond kinetics and applied stress.