Reflections on Four Decades of Research on Fracture and Materials

Speaker :
Prof. Yiu-Wing Mai
School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering
The University of Sydney, Australia
Date : 6 Dec 2018 (Thu)
Time : 4:00 pm
Venue : Room 2548-2550, HKUST (2/F., Lift #27/28)


Over the past 40 years I have worked on the fracture and fatigue mechanics of a range of engineering materials including polymers, fibre/particulate composites and their fibre/matrix interfaces, coarse-grained ceramics, cementitious materials, and electromagnetic materials. I have co-authored 6 research monographs [1-6] with my past and present colleagues and graduate students on the fracture of some of these material types. It is perhaps time now to pause and reflect on what I did and what it took to make some lasting contributions to basic knowledge in the field. Like life, research is a series of chance encounters. Hence, “being in the right place at the right time” is critical. In this talk, I will show these in several examples based on my past research experiences. (a) Crack-wake bridging model for toughening of quasi-brittle materials. (b) Fracture mechanics models for evaluation of fibre/matrix interface properties. (c) Theoretical foundation for the essential work of fracture method to measure toughness of tough ductile materials.


  1. A G Atkins and Y-W Mai, "Elastic and Plastic Fracture: Metals, Polymers, Ceramics, Composites, Biological Materials", Chichester, U.K.: Ellis Horwood/John Wiley, 1985, 817 pp. Paperback edition, 1988.
  2. B Cotterell and Y-W Mai, "Fracture Mechanics of Cementitious Materials", Glasgow, UK: Blackie A & P/Chapman & Hall, 294 p, 1996.
  3. J K Kim and Y-W Mai, "Engineered Interfaces in Fibre-Reinforced Composites", Elsevier Science Publishers Ltd, Oxford, 401 p, 1998.
  4. S Y Fu, B Lauke and Y-W Mai, “Science and Engineering of Short Fibre Reinforced Polymer Composites”, Woodhead Publishing/CRC Press, Cambridge/New York, 338 p, 2009.
  5. XH Chen, Y-W Mai, “Fracture Mechanics of Electromagnetic Materials: Nonlinear field theory and applications”, Imperial College Press, London, 305 p, 2013.
  6. A Dasari, Z-Z Yu and Y-W Mai, “Polymer Nanocomposites: Towards Multi-Functionality”, Springer-Verlag, London, 374 p, 2016.


Professor Yiu-Wing Mai received his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in mechanical engineering at the University of Hong Kong, China. He had worked at various times in the US (the University of Michigan and the NIST), the UK (Imperial College) and Hong Kong (CityU, HKU, HKUST and PolyU); and now holds a University Chair in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sydney.

Prof Mai has made seminal contributions on fracture mechanics and advanced composite materials. His research results have impacted on the developments of asbestos-free fibre cements (James Hardie Coy Pty Ltd), superhard machining tools coated with ceramic nanocomposites (HKITC; General Motors, China), testing protocols for essential work of fracture of polymers (ESIS-TC4), and improved composites manufacturing processes, such as pultrusion, thermoforming and stitching/z-pinning (Cooperative Research Centre for Advanced Composite Structures). Prof Mai was elected to the fellowships of the Royal Society of London, the UK Royal Academy of Engineering, the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and the Hong Kong Academy of Engineering Sciences. He was also elected in 2017 a Foreign Member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. In 2016 he was awarded the AA Griffith Medal by the UK Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.