First-order transition in the breakdown of disordered media
Originally published in Physical Review Letters, v.78 no.8 (1997), pp.1408-1411. DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.78.1408. Dr. Vespignani is affiliated with Northeastern University as of the time of deposit.
We study the approach to global breakdown in disordered media driven by increasing external forces. We first analyze the problem by mean-field theory, showing that the failure process can be described as a first-order phase transition, similarly to the case of thermally activated fracture in homogeneous media. Then we quantitatively confirm the predictions of the mean-field theory using numerical simulations of discrete models. Widely distributed avalanches and the corresponding mean-field scaling are explained by the long-range nature of elastic interactions. We discuss the analogy of our results to driven disordered first-order transitions and spinodal nucleation in magnetic systems.
S Zapperi, P Ray, H E. Stanley, and A Vespignani. "First-order transition in the breakdown of disordered media" Physics Faculty Publications (1997).
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/avespignani/23