Dynamic fracture processes in structural materials are often described in terms of the relationship between a measure of the crack driving force and the crack-tip speed. In this paper, ongoing research directed toward establishing a basis for such a relationship in terms of crack-tip plastic fields is described. In particular, the role of material inertia on a small scale as it influences the perceived fracture resistance of a rate-independent material is discussed. Also, the influence of material strain rate sensitivity on the development of crack-tip plastic deformations, and the implications for cleavage propagation and arrest in a material that can undergo a fracture mechanism transition is considered. The discussion is concluded with mention of a few outstanding problems in the study of dynamic fracture, including some recent experimental evidence that the traditional crack-tip characterization viewpoint of fracture mechanics may be inadequate under very high rate loading conditions.
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