Fracture toughness and fracture energy release rate are two important parameters to understand the crack propagation within any material. Fracture toughness of asphalt concrete (AC) is vital to explain the fatigue cracking and low temperature cracking of asphalt pavement. These two types of distresses are still unsolved issues for asphalt researchers. Measuring fracture toughness of AC is not a new phenomenon. Recently, researchers have used several techniques to measure the fracture toughness of AC. Tests like semi-circular bending (SCB) and disk-shaped compact specimen (DCT) testing have been used to measure the fracture toughness of the AC. From the SCB or DCT tests, past researchers have shown that crack in AC propagates through mainly binder and mastic phase. All these conventional tests are carried out in macro scale. It is important to understand that before propagation of these macro scale cracks, the cracks initiates at the nano/micro scale level. With the increment of the loads these nanoscale cracks become macro scale cracks and propagates through the sample. Therefore, it is important to understand the cracks at nanoscale. In this study, nanoindentation test was introduced to measure the fracture toughness of the asphalt concrete. In a nanoindentation test, the sample surface is indented with a loaded indenter. For this test, Berkovich indenter with load control method was used. A field cored asphalt concrete sample was used for this study. The sample was collected by coring at interstate 40 (I-40) near Albuquerque, New Mexico. The sample was field aged for four years. The maximum load applied in this study was 5-mn and the unloading was done at a faster rate than the loading rate. From the load-displacement curves of the nanoindentation tests, fracture toughness of the samples was measured. The unloading curve of the nanoindentation test was further used to obtain reduced modulus of the asphalt concrete using Oliver-Pharr method. In this study, fracture energy is thought of as a portion of irreversible energy. This irreversible energy is comprised of plastic energy and energy required for propagation of crack. By analyzing the load displacement curve along with the maximum indentation depth, energy release rate and mode I fracture toughness of asphalt concrete was measured.

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