The effect of mixed mode loading on the fracture toughness of engineering materials is rationalized in terms of the operative fracture mechanism as well as the deformation field ahead of the crack tip. It was found that mixed mode fracture is of utmost importance in materials which fail by stable ductile fracture caused by second phase particles, since in such materials there is a significant reduction in fracture toughness on mixed-mode loading. An autocatalytic shear localization-void formation mechanistic model was found to qualitatively explain the mixed mode fracture behavior in such materials.

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