Oscillatory Fracture Paths in Thin Elastic Sheets


We report a novel mode of quasi-static oscillatory crack propagation when a cutting tip of moderately large width is driven through a thin brittle polymer film. Experiments show that the amplitude and wavelength of the oscillatory crack paths scale linearly with the width of the cutting tip over a wide range of length scales but are independent of the width of the sheet and of the cutting speed. We propose a mechanism for this instability, based on the coupling between crack propagation and out-of-plane deformations of the film.