Heterogeneities play a dual role in the mechanical behavior of materials. They alter the stiffness and plastic resistance of a solid, but also provide interfaces across which stresses are concentrated due to the accumulating deformation-induced misfit that can hasten cavitation and lead to eventual fracture. This paper discusses conditions of cavitation around hard particles in low-temperature ductile fracture of metals and alloys and in intergranular fracture during creep. Also, analogous, but complementary, roles of compliant particles and heterogeneity phases in the craze plasticity of glassy polymers are also surveyed.
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