My new article on materials science

Here is my newest paper!

“Thermomechanical generation of fissure patterns on the surface of heated circular wood samples”

We discuss the observation of primary crack patterns on the surface of heated medium density fiberboard (MDF) round samples in inert atmosphere. A constant heat flux irradiates the wood surface, and the primary cracks seem to appear instantaneously at a temperature below the pyrolysis point, \textit{before} any actual charring. Such fissures were originally believed to form mainly by the action of physicochemical processes; on the contrary, we show here that below the pyrolysis temperatures this occurs by means of thermomechanical surface instability. The crack patterns can indeed be explained qualitatively by the simultaneous thermal expansion and softening of the hot surface layer, which is restrained by the colder wood beneath. This generates membrane compressive stresses leading to surface instability. Physically, this is a consequence of the thermomechanical properties of wood, which is a natural thermoplastic. In this paper, the macro-crack topology is reproduced by a full 3D thermomechanical instability model. We obtain the patterns by solving the according eigenvalue problem numerically, by Finite Element Method (FEM). We also formulate the model in 2D, assuming a circular soft thin plate bonded to an elastic foundation, and solve it both analytically and numerically. Finally, we compare our results with analogous crack patterns appearing on the surface of square samples, which we discussed in a previous study. We conclude that very different pattern symmetries (orthotropic, isotropic and circular) might be explained by the same model of thermomechanical surface instability.

Published by Andrea Ferrantelli

Theoretical physicist and musician. Quantum Prana, the Dark Matter Guitar.

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