The fracture process in quasi-brittle materials such as concrete, rocks, and ceramics is characterized by localized cracking and an R-curve type of behavior due to the fracture process zone. Accurate estimation of materials toughness can be determined only if the exact crack-tip location is known and the influence of the process zone can be measured.
In the nondestructive evaluation (NDE) of steel bridges, the location of cracks is a difficult problem, particularly due to lack of accessibility and due to the sheer size and number of the bridges that require inspection. Adequate tools for nondestructive inspection are therefore needed.
In recent years, laser interferometry techniques have proven to be major assets in accomplishing these tasks. Image analysis systems have removed the need for chemical processing, and optical data can be processed in real time by personal computers. These advances have led to new uses for laser techniques both for locating fractures and for assessing fracture parameters of materials.
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