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1007/s11340-010-9373-z

**Determination of Mechanical Properties of Sand Grains by Nanoindentation
**

N.P. Daphalapurkar & F. Wang & B. Fu & H. Lu & R. Komanduri

Received: 3 August 2009 / Accepted: 24 May 2010 # Society for Experimental Mechanics 2010

Abstract Determination of the mechanical properties of individual sand grains by conventional material testing methods at the macroscale is somewhat difficult due to the sizes of the individual sand particles (a few μm to mm). In this paper, we used the nanoindentation technique with a Berkovich tip to measure the Young’s modulus, hardness, and fracture toughness. An inverse problem solving approach was adopted to determine the stress-strain relationship of sand at the granular level using the finite element method. A cube-corner indenter tip was used to generate radial cracks, the lengths of which were used to determine the fracture toughness. Scatter in the data was observed, as is common with most brittle materials. In order to consider the overall mechanical behavior of the sand grains, statistical analysis of the mechanical properties data (including the variability in the properties) was conducted

N.P. Daphalapurkar Department of Mechanical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA e-mail: nitin@jhu.edu F. Wang : H. Lu (SEM member) Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX 75080, USA H. Lu e-mail: hongbing.lu@utdallas.edu B. Fu : R. Komanduri (*) School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Oklahoma State University, 218 Engineering North, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA e-mail: ranga.komanduri@okstate.edu B. Fu e-mail: boshen.fu@okstate.edu

using the Weibull distribution function. This data can be used in the mesoscale simulations. Keywords Sand . Mechanical properties . Nanoindentation . Young’s modulus . Hardness . Stress-strain . Fracture toughness . Particulate mechanics

Introduction Granular materials, such as sand, are conglomerates of discrete particles held together (but not bonded) with significant void space (35–65%). They are unique in that they behave in some respects similar to the other familiar forms of matter, namely, solids, liquids, and gases and in other respects in a dissimilar form. For example, they pack like solids but flow like liquids. Like liquids, they take the shape of the container but unlike them they can adopt to a variety of shapes when they are free standing. Similarly, like gases, they are made of discrete particles with negligible cohesive forces between them. Like solid, they can support load, but unlike a solid, they hardly support any tensile load. In view of their unique behavior, some consider granular materials as the fifth state of matter, alongside, solids, liquids, gases, and plasma. They cannot strictly be modeled as a continuum, yet it is done by considering the movement of particles in the void space under load, akin to the deformation and flow in solids. Sand is formed largely by erosion and disintegration of larger rocks into particles by natural forces, such as wind, pressure, water, ice, friction, and heat. Over millions of years, such processes have led to the formation of sand of various grain sizes ranging from a fraction of a micrometer to several millimeters. Investigation of the mechanical behavior of sand from granular (mesoscale) to macro

[1] and Lade and Duncan [2] conducted triaxial compression tests on sand to determine the nature of deformation and attempted to describe it using a constitutive law. and fracture of granular materials under load and ultimately realize the underlying science-base for large scale phenomena. this field yet remains to be relatively insufficiently understood. and the size (typically a few mm) of the influential shearing zones in tectonic plates in sliding during earthquakes and landslides. defect structure. especially in the soil mechanics area. hardness. Consequently.. However. we predicted the stress-strain response.e. . Furthermore. In this investigation. As far as larger (on the order of a centimeter or more) sand particles (rocks) are concerned. it becomes possible to characterize such materials and extract the moduli and hardness values at different depths of indentation. the stresses are considered to propagate in a manner described by the wave-like (hyperbolic) equations [7–9] rather than by the elliptic equations of static elasticity. such as the formation of force-chains is more pronounced and deformation mechanisms at meso/micro scales need to be considered [11]. softening and preshearing effects by Lade and Duncan [4].Exp Mech (continuum) scale can contribute towards a fundamental understanding of the underlying mechanisms of deformation. The added advantage of such testing is that in some cases. The material properties extracted will be a function of the maximum indentation depth reached or the deformation zone beneath the indenter tip. hardness. are of particular importance since their individual behavior dictates the overall behavior of sand at the macroscale. and stress-strain relationship of sand granules at microscale. the localization of deformation [10]. Hence. and shear band formation by Wang and Lade [5]. This is partially due to the emergence of new technological instruments. However. and microcracks which could adversely effect the yield properties. Grain size plays an important role due to the fact that larger grains would contain higher number of defects in the form of voids. Poorooshasb et al. has been an area of increasing interest especially in the past decade or so. such as the Young’s modulus. X-ray microtomography as well as the availability of rapidly increasing computational power that has facilitated in addressing this complex problem. For the past two decades. By using the cube-corner of an indenter tip to induce cracks in the sand grain. extracting the material properties by indentation at depths < 100 nm would essentially provide mechanical properties at nanoscale. difficulties arise in the preparation of the sample and/or holding smaller grains in the material testing machine prior to subjecting them to compression or pulled in tension for the measurements of mechanical properties. Sand is often used to provide ballistic protection for military and national security applications. and coatings as well as for MEMS and NEMS components. atomic force microscopy (AFM). fracture toughness. such as nanoindentation. fracture toughness. in sandbags to prevent soil erosion at the banks and act as temporary dams against floods. such as sand. and stress-strain relations of sand grains. The resolution in such a test can reach a fraction of a nanometer in displacement and µN in load. As a result. However. flow. by adopting an inverse methodology approach. we used the nanoindentation technique to determine the force-displacement relation and extracted the mechanical properties. Also. for smaller systems at the granular level. measurement of mechanical properties can be carried out using tensile/ compression testing machine. Additionally. for small-scale systems. mechanical properties of larger grains cannot be directly used to imply the behavior of finer grains. We conducted nanoindentations on several grains to assess the variance in the mechanical properties. ridges. nanoindentation has been used for the measurement of mechanical properties of different types of materials (e. viscoelastic). Triaxial compression tests were also carried out by Arthur and Menzies [3] to investigate anisotropy. wires.g. Moreover. nanoindentation technique is being widely used to extract mechanical properties of very small volume of materials. The instrumented nanoindentation is widely accepted as a standardized testing method for the characterization of mechanical properties for elastic-plastic materials. elastic-plastic. size. i. and as a construction material in civil engineering structures. we characterized the fracture behavior of sand particles. the mechanical behavior of granular or particulate materials. Such an ease in the characterization of length-scale dependent material properties using nanoindentation is in contrast with the tedious procedure involved in using conventional tensile testing on small samples. Mechanical properties. such as the Young’s modulus. wherein the materials exhibit length-scale dependent behavior. by using the experimental load-depth information in combination with Finite Element (FE) numerical simulations. Considerable research had been reported in the literature on the mechanical behavior of sand. Brief Review of Literature It is well known that dense/highly compacted sand possess high compressive strength and high energy absorption capacity. Thus. simple shear tests were conducted by Haythornthwaite [6] to determine shear locus of sand. the mechanical properties of the grains can vary with the mineral composition. such as thin films. and crystal orientation of sand. such as the motion of sand particles by an impacting solid.

Refs. This procedure was found to be adequate for estimating the fracture toughness in homogeneous materials. The mechanisms of deformation and fracture in the individual sand grains can be different from their larger counterparts. The lengths of the cracks developed were used to predict the range of fracture toughness values for the sand grains. Nanoindentation provides an effective technique for the measurement of local material response in terms of hardness and Young’s modulus at micro. Liao et al. such as dynamic Young’s modulus and hardness have been well established [18. For example. Figure 1(a) shows the SEM image of sand grains.and nano. in combination with experimental results have been developed effectively to measure the material properties and also the stress-strain relationships [20. contrast. Nanoindents were also made using a cube-corner indenter to generate cracks for the estimation of fracture toughness. For geomechanics applications and simulations. It maybe noted that the sand sample used for nanoindentation has widely distributed sizes. failure behavior of rocks. They determined the material properties and found significant variations depending on the amount and orientation of the micro-fissures. the data for larger sizes cannot be extended directly for individual sand grains. mainly due to the difference in the length scales.length scales (see for e. Inverse methodologies. the indent impressions were obtained using MTS NanoVision setup. [14–17]). 21]. This method is very well established and has been implemented in commercially instrumented nanoindenters for use on elastic-plastic mateFig. They exhibit different shapes. Young’s modulus and hardness were obtained directly from the MTS TestWorks software output based on the analysis of unloading segment using the method developed by Oliver and Pharr [19]. (b) (color online) Magnified optical image of polished sand grains in an epoxy matrix rials. In this investigation. Additionally. including. The sand was washed and subsequently dried in an oven at ∼55°C. a type of sedimentary rock. Instead. and concluded that shales are nanogranular composite materials with their mechanical properties dictated by particle-to-particle contact and packing density. Nanoindentation Measurements A sample of sand. 23]. available near the lakes in Stillwater. Statistical analysis was conducted to determine the variability in the mechanical properties of sand grains. However. namely. Methods for measuring the elastic-plastic properties. and porosity under an optical microscope. sizes. In addition to the measurement of the elastic modulus and hardness. Ulm and Abousleiman [13] conducted nanoindentation measurements on shales.g. an EDS . using numerical techniques. [12] conducted direct tensile tests on transversely isotropic cylindrical argillite specimens and reported the stress-strain relationships. the unloading curve is used to extract the elastic properties of an elastic-plastic material. the elimination of the need for direct observation of the residual indentation impressions. elastic modulus and hardness by calculating the area of indent impression from the loading/unloading curves. 1 (a) SEM image of sand grains. nanoindentation has also been used to determine the fracture toughness of brittle materials [22. 19]. The wide acceptance of nanoindentation technique stems from the improvements incorporated in the technique. we conducted nanoindentation tests using a Berkovich indenter tip on several (∼250) individual sand grains of ∼1 mm size and recorded the loaddisplacement data. In all the cases. There have been many efforts on characterizing mechanical behavior. For example. it is necessary to know the mechanical properties of individual grains. This was used for solving the inverse problem to determine the stress-strain curve using FEM. OK was used in this investigation. A representative stress-strain curve was obtained from which the corresponding average modulus was obtained.Exp Mech Most of the literature on characterization of mechanical properties of sand or rocks has focused on either compressive behavior of sand as bulk or macroscale properties of rocks by pulling them in a tensile testing machine.

polished sand grain surfaces under a constant rate of loading. Analysis is carried out on the load-displacement output to determine the mechanical properties of the sand grains based on contact mechanics of nanoindentation. The samples were polished using an alumina abrasive powder (from Buehler Inc. nanoindentation tests were carried out on a polished. H¼ Pmax Ac ð1Þ where Pmax is the maximum indentation force and Ac is the contact area corresponding to the contact depth (hc) at maximum load. as the main objective of this investigation was to determine the mechanical properties of individual grains by nanoindentation. were used in this investigation. Er Es Ei ð2Þ where Es and νs are the Young’s modulus and Poisson’s ratio of the specimen. The contact stiffness (S) is calculated from the slope of the initial unloading curve. Figure 2(b) shows a typical nanoindentation load-displacement curve. defects such as small pits and ridges were observed. a module of the MTS Nanoindenter system.1 to 2 mm with an average grain size of 1 mm. The displacement and load resolutions are 0. This indenter can reach a maximum indentation depth of 500 μm and a maximum load of 500 mN. is termed the loading segment. The samples were cured in an oven resulting in a composite of sand grains in a hardened epoxy matrix. and modulus and Poisson’s ratio values for the indenter tip can be used to determine the elastic modulus for a specimen corresponding to its Poisson’s ratio. the sand agglomerate was vibrated through a series of progressively smaller sieves that were stacked one on top of another.5 mm) in three . The load-displacement curves obtained thus are characteristic of that particular sand grain. After 10 min of shaking. The applied load on the indenter tip was increased until it reached a user-defined value. The reduced modulus Er is obtained using 1 1 À n2 1 À n2 s i ¼ þ . The sand particle size distributions express the percentage (by mass) of individual size ranges [24]. It can be seen that no cracks were formed when indented with a Berkovich indenter-tip. respectively.) in a water slurry. crystal orientation. respectively. Figure 2(a) shows an inverted image (3D) and a typical nanoindentation residual impression obtained using the NanoVision. Hardness (H) is obtained using. At this point. defect structure. The sieves use metal wire cloth with an ASTME-11 standard sieve series. K and Fe in the sand sample. Figure 1(b) shows an optical image of the polished sand surface with grains oriented in different directions. To separate different sizes of the sand. No particular analysis was carried out to determine the type of sand within this sample size. the load was removed. a given force was applied by the nanoindenter using a Berkovich tip on the sand grain. Multidirectional shaker was used to determine the size distribution of the sand grains. Al. The sand grains exhibited different colors due to differences in the density. the continuum approximation can be applied and equations (1) to (3) can be used to determine the modulus and hardness of the samples. Once the user-defined maximum load was reached.Exp Mech spectrum was obtained in the SEM showing the presence of Si. Hence. respectively. The inverted image enables the determination of the depth of the indent more accurately and delineates its topographical features. and mineral content. Nanoindentations were carried out under load-control.2 nm and 50 nN. and is calculated based on the tip area function. An MTS Nano Indenter XP system was used for nanoindentation measurements. The initial part of the loaddisplacement curve. made of single crystal diamond. Thus. in which the indenter-tip was pressed onto the sample and the load on it was increased linearly. slope of the unloading curve. The sand grains were embedded in an epoxy matrix and mounted in a sample holder. Both Berkovich and cubecorner indenter tips. Due to finite stiffness of the indenter tip. the finest abrasive size used in the final polishing was 50 nm. Results and Discussion Young’s Modulus and Hardness For the measurement of elastic modulus and hardness. the holding time in our experiments was zero. S¼ pﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃ dP 2 ¼ pﬃﬃﬃ Er Ac ðhc Þ dh p ð3Þ Equations (2) and (3) along with the known values of the area function. its modulus has to be considered in the expression for the calculation of specimen modulus from the contact stiffness. relatively large sand grain (size ∼1. To obtain a smooth surface suitable for nanoindentation. no information is extracted from the hold segment. characterized by an increase in the load from zero to maximum. Since. the unloading segment. while Ei and νi are the Young’s modulus and Poisson’s ratio of the indenter tip (made of diamond). the sand that falls through a mesh was given the designation of passed weight and the sand that remains on top of that mesh was designated as remaining weight. Ca. Within the sand grains. The grain size distribution used in this investigation was 0. Nanoindentations were made on flat. the load is held constant for a period or removed. To determine whether the sand grains are isotropic or not. again in a controlled manner (linearly) and is termed.

respectively. respectively. compared to the modulus of quartz. (b) Loaddisplacement curve orthogonal directions on the cube corner of a sand grain (1 mm×0.9 GPa and 10.74 GPa.08±5.6±3. The results from the two tests were averaged and taken as the mean value for that grain. The variation in the measured modulus and hardness at different locations is attributed here to the heterogeneity in the sand grain. Nanoindentation tests were made on all three faces. Figure 3(a) and (b) show Weibull plots for the data obtained on Young’s modulus and hardness. defect structure.7 GPa). 45. Once an estimate was obtained for a single grain (of representative size ∼0.85 GPa. respectively. On each face. which has modulus values of 79 GPa. and crystal orientations. 79 GPa. YZ.7 mm). The three faces were designated as: face XY. however. respectively.21 GPa. we determined the median value (corresponding to P50 value) for Young’s modulus of the sand to be 90.4 to 13.7±4. which use .30 GPa. In order to investigate the variability in the properties over a single grain (size ∼0. Inverse methodologies. (a) Residual indent impression and 3D inverse image. Using Weibull distribution function. and 44. Young’s modulus and hardness values were obtained using the slope of the unloading curve and the values of load and contact area at maximum indentation depth. respectively. The Young’s modulus values for face XY. Scatter in the data is attributed to different types of sand grains due primarily to the variations in the material constituents. This could be induced by different material constituents in the sand grain.8 mm×0. nanoindentations were made on a sand grain with the same maximum load at different locations.4 to 115. 4(a) and (b)]. were found to be lower. 2 (color online) Nanoindentation test on sand grain using Berkovich indenter. The median value (corresponding to P50 probability) for Young’s modulus and hardness are 66. These values are very close to each other.7 mm) embedded in an epoxy matrix. and 103 GPa when indentations were made on an X-cut.Exp Mech Fig. and ZX were 43. Stress-Strain Response Solution for the indentation problem has been well established [25–30]. Young’s modulus values. 8 to 10 tests were carried out and the distances between the neighboring test locations were kept apart by at least 50 μm. Y-cut. The Weibull distributions of the modulus and the hardness values were plotted in [Fig.8 GPa) and hardness to be 10. indicating that the sand grain can be modeled as an isotropic material. These were direct outputs from the nanoindentation software.7 GPa (range 5.1 GPa (range 41. and face ZX of the sand grain. nanoindentations were carried out on 250 different grains with two indentations per grain.7 mm). face YZ. and Z-cut surfaces.

Á pﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃ À " ¼ "ij "ij ¼ "y þ "p . (b) Weibull plot of hardness from nanoindentations on different sand grains . The von Mises equivalent stress is given as. are used in situations where it is difficult to extract mechanical properties using analytical solutions alone due to nonlinearities or complexities in the material. we can start with certain assumed values of material parameters for e. such as Finite Element Method (FEM).g. 2 Fig. s ¼ 3 s ij s ij . in the case of nanoindentation. it is easier to simulate the equivalent model using a numerical method. 4 (a) Weibull plot for Young’s modulus from nanoindentations on different sand grains. (b) Weibull plot of hardness from nanoindentations on a single sand grain experimentation in combination with numerical techniques to aid in characterizing the material properties. where εy is the yield strain and εp is the plastic qﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃ strain. 3 (a) Weibull plot of Young’s modulus from nanoindentations on a single sand grain. nanoindentation was modeled using FEM. von Mises yield criterion was used along with isotropic hardening to simulate the deformation characteristics of a sand grain.Exp Mech Fig. and ε is the equivalent strain. by comparing the load-displacement curves. It maybe noted that FEM has been applied successfully in the simulation of nanoindentation problem [31–40]. The plastic behavior under compression was assumed to satisfy the RambergOsgood relationship between the true stress and true strain as s 1=n "¼ for s ! s y ð4Þ K where n is the work hardening exponent. Initially. For determining the stress-strain relationship of granular sand material. geometry and loading conditions. for e. To predict the elastic-plastic properties. In such cases. plastic flow. K is the reference stress value.g. The values are adjusted so that numerical results obtained can be comparable with the experimental values.

for s sy ð5Þ where E is the Young’s modulus. The perfectly sharp tip model in the simu- Fig. is limited by the strain produced by the nanoindentation test [42]. 6 (a) Compressive strain distribution along radial direction of the model. σ2. the maximum strain up to which the stress-strain curve is valid. the initially assumed values were so adjusted as to minimize the least squares correlation coefficient. and σ3 are the principal stresses and σy is the yield strength measured in a uniaxial tension test. It should be noted that using this approach. The numerical values of the loaddisplacement curve were compared with the experimental values and the measure of fit was carried out by minimizing the least squares correlation coefficient. only one sixth of the entire model was used in this simulation to reduce the computational time. the continuum plasticity material model was justified. 5 Comparison of load-displacement relationship curves from nanoindentation and FE simulation Within the elastic limit. Poisson’s ratio of 0. No cracks were observed by examining the indent impressions (for the Berkovich indenter tip) obtained from NanoVision. As stated earlier. assuming finite deformation characteristics. The von Mises yield criteria can be written as ðs 1 À s 2 Þ2 þ ðs 2 À s 3 Þ2 þ ðs 3 À s 1 Þ2 ¼ 2s 2 y ð6Þ where. The output of the FE analysis was the resulting reaction force or load. σ1. The Berkovich indenter was simulated based on its three sided pyramidal geometry.Exp Mech Fig. Thus. s ¼ E ". In this simulation. Figure 5 shows the fit obtained using the FEM simulation (obtained using ABAQUSStandard) to the representative experimental data of P50. ABAQUS V6. This numerical load was plotted versus the displacement into the surface to give load-displacement curve from the simulation.17 and Young’s Modulus of 75 GPa were used in this simulation. the material parameters were adjusted until a good agreement was reached between experimental and numerical data. The displacement history from the experiment was given as input for the FE analysis. Finite Element (FE) method was used in 3D simulations of nanoindentation. we used an inverse problem solving approach to determine the stressstrain relationship of sand at granular level by correlating the FEM simulated nanoindentation load-displacement data with the measured results. Because of the Berkovich indenter’s axisymmetric geometry. Thus. the indenter has a tip with a finite radius of tens to a few hundred nanometers. the tip of the Berkovich indenter was assumed to be perfectly sharp but in practice. The best-fit parameters were then used to determine the stressstrain relationship for the sand grain sample. The mesh size selected was tested for convergence of the loaddisplacement curve.8-4 standard [41] software program was used to perform the calculations. (b) Stress-strain curve (in compression) from FE simulation . In order to obtain a better fit.

6(b)] is represented in the form Fig. 6(a)]. the compressive strain distribution along the radial direction. The strains in the region at a radial distance of more than 200 nm from the tip. (a) at maximum load of 80 mN. We consider a strain of 0. which is in the region 200 nm away from the tip.Exp Mech Fig. 7 (color online) Surface profile showing cracks generated after nanoindentation using cube corner tip. starting from the tip contact area is shown. the strains are unreasonably high (∼90% compressive strain) at the tip due to singularity. it will result in unreasonable values near the tip. (b) at maximum load of 70 mN lations will cause the stress near the tip to be much higher. The predicted stress-strain response [Fig. At a depth less than 200 nm. Since an artificially sharp Berkovich indenter model was used in the simulation. In [Fig. as the highest strain. decrease slowly from 0.6. 8 Weibull plot of fracture toughness from nanoindentations on different sand grains Fig. 9 (color online) Inverse image of nanoindentation on a sand grain at 5 mN load using a cube corner nanoindenter tip .6.

defect structure. H. we have taken the average crack length for calculation of fracture toughness. α is an empirical constant that takes into account the geometry of the indenter tip (for a cube-corner tip α=0. Power-law was used to represent the homogenized and isotropic stressstrain behavior of sand at the granular level. such as presence of References 1. Additionally. Can Geotech J 3 (4):179–190 2. Need exists to establish the link between nanoindentation measured properties of sand grains with the observed macro properties for accurate prediction of the bulk behavior of sand. [22] was used.7 GPa). As can be expected of a brittle material. Conclusions In order to assess the granular-level mechanical behavior of sand.H. Representative values (50 percentile) of Young’s modulus (P50) for the sand grains was found to be 90. the fracture toughness can be estimated by measuring the lengths of the radial cracks produced at a given indentation load. The yield stress obtained from the simulation results is σy =6. 7(a) and (b)]. and stress-strain relationship. hardness to be 10. The data reported here can be used for mesoscale (granular) simulations of sand in which the individual sand grains would have different properties along with a range of distributions obtained in this study. 8. Lade PV. It maybe noted that due to slight errors in the alignment and inhomogeniety of the sand grains.5). In order to investigate the failure behavior of the sand grains.6 MPa-m0. and Dr.6 MPa-m0.25 and K=14.5 (range 0.5 which is in reasonable agreement with the value reported for fused silica by Harding et al. acknowledges the A. Jr. Victor Giurgiutiu of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). Both 3D inverse images and 2D nanoindentation residual images are shown for details on the crack formation and fracture. Eglin AFB. William L Cooper of the Air Force Research Laboratory. a sample test was run on a standard fused silica sample (results not included here). a cube corner indenter was used to indent into a polished sand grain to initiate cracks at the corners of three edges of the tip. Duncan JM (1973) Cubical triaxial tests on cohesionless soil. Young’s modulus.K. It is well known that sand grains would behave in a brittle manner under load.5 (range 0. The average value for fracture toughness obtained was 0. Sharon Green for her highly skilled editorial assistance.L. Since we are interested in the ratio of E/H from the nanoindentation tests for calculation of fracture toughness. where c is the crack length. the crack length c is determined from the surface scans (two of the scans along with inverse images) as shown in [Fig.8 to 3. This is attributed to the possible inhomogeneity within a single sand grain. No cracks were seen and indentation impression clearly showed flow lines from the surface down to the bottom of the indentation indicating ductile flow in a nominally brittle material. nanoindentation tests were conducted on individual sand grains to characterize their mechanical properties. For sand. It maybe noted that cracks observed on some sand grains were not exactly straight.1 GPa (range 41. we obtained an average value of the ratio as 8. Acknowledgements This work is supported by an AFOSR DEPSCoR grant (FA9550-08-1-0328) and the authors acknowledge the strong support and interest of Dr.4 to 13.6 MPa-m0. In order to estimate the fracture toughness. Before proceeding with the nanoindentation on sand grains. The authors also thank Mrs. Poorooshasb HB. This was followed by indentations with a cube-corner tip (see “Young’s Modulus and Hardness”). it is somewhat difficult to induce three cracks with equal length. From it.032 [23]). the variation in the property value indicates that sand at granular level is very inhomogeneous due to different material constituents. However. The Weibull distribution of the fracture toughness values obtained is shown in Fig. fracture toughness.77 MPa-m0. radial cracks propagate out of the indenter corners. acknowledges the support of NSF (CMMI-0555902 and CMS-9985060) and R.Exp Mech of Ramberg-Osgood model and the parameters obtained were n=0. KC ¼ a 0:5 E P H c3=2 ð7Þ defects. This may be the minimal load below which the sand grains would behave in a ductile manner with a possible ‘size effect’ implications. Fracture Toughness When a brittle material is loaded by a sharp indenter under an appropriate load.8 GPa). a wide variation in the granular behavior of sand was observed. J Soil Mech Found Div 99(10):793–812 . and fracture toughness to be 1.27 GPa. Endowed Chair in Engineering for additional financial support. hardness. a formula derived by Antis et al. and crystal orientations. [43]. the median value for the fracture toughness was obtained as 1.7 GPa (range 5.1 GPa. the values of the elastic modulus (E) and hardness (H) were obtained initially using the Berkovich nanoindenter tip. When there are differences between the crack lengths from the same indent.4 to 115. In such a case.5).8 to 3.77 MPa-m0. Further studies are needed to confirm this hypothesis. Nelson. In equation (7).5. Sherbourne AN (1966) Yielding and flow of sand in triaxial compression Part I. Figure 9 shows a 3D inverse image of a nanoindent on a sand grain using a cube corner tip at 5 mN load. Holubec I. namely.

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