In the study of fracture processes in composite materials, the interactions between broken and intact fibres are of critical importance. Indeed, the redistribution of stress from a failed fibre to its unfailed adjacent neighbours, and the stress concentration induced in these, determine the extent to which a break in one fibre will cause more breaks in neighbouring fibres. The overall failure pattern is a direct function of the stress concentration factors. In this paper we use laser micro-Raman spectroscopy to study the extent of stress transfer and redistribution caused by fibre fracture in two-dimensional Kevlar 149 based microcomposites. The strain along the fibres was mapped at different levels of load, and specimens with different inter-fibre distances were used to study the fibre content effect. The experimental stress concentration factors were compared with values predicted from various theoretical models. The stress concentration factors generally agreed with those literature models that include interfibre distance and matrix effects. The overall failure pattern was found not to be a direct function of the stress concentration factors in this system, as fracture propagates from fibre to fibre even at large interfibre distances, and is apparently accompanied by relatively low values of the stress concentration factors. The ‘critical cluster size’, beyond which final fracture of the composite occurs in a catastrophic manner, was found to be larger than five adjacent fibre breaks in the present system, for all interfibre distances studied.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/maher_amer/16/