The fundamental nature of an interface crack between dissimilar, strongly anisotropic composite materials under general loading is studied. Based on Lekhnitskii’s stress potentials and anisotropic elasticity theory, the formulation leads to a pair of coupled governing partial differential equations. The case of an interlaminar crack with fully opened surfaces is considered first. The problem is reduced to a Hilbert problem which can be solved in a closed form. Oscillatory stress singularities are observed in the asymptotic solution. To correct this unsatisfactory feature, a partially closed crack model is introduced. Formulation of the problem results in a singular integral equation which is solved numerically. The refined model exhibits an inverse square-root stress singularity for commonly used advanced fiber-reinforced composites such as a graphite-epoxy system. Extremely small contact regions are found for the partially closed interlaminar crack in a tensile field and, therefore, a simplified model is proposed for this situation. Physically meaningful fracture mechanics parameters such as stress intensity factors and energy release rates are defined. Numerical examples for a crack between θ and −θ graphite-epoxy composites are examined and detailed results are given.

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