Brittle failure of components weakened by cracks or sharp and blunt V-notches is a topic of active
and continuous research. It is attractive for all researchers who face the problem of fracture of materials under
different loading conditions and deals with a large number of applications in different engineering fields, not
only with the mechanical one. This topic is significant in all the cases where intrinsic defects of the material or
geometrical discontinuities give rise to localized stress concentration which, in brittle materials, may generate a
crack leading to catastrophic failure or to a shortening of the assessed structural life. Whereas cracks are viewed
as unpleasant entities in most engineering materials, U- and V-notches of different acuities are sometimes
deliberately introduced in design and manufacturing of structural components.
Dealing with brittle failure of notched components and summarising some recent experimental results reported
in the literature, the main aim of the present contribution is to present a review of the research work developed
by Professor Paolo Lazzarin. The approach based on the volume strain energy density (SED), which has been
recently applied to assess the brittle failure of a large number of materials. The main features of the SED
approach are outlined in the paper and its peculiarities and advantages accurately underlined. Some examples of
applications are reported, as well. The present contribution is based on the author’s experience over about 15
years and the contents of his personal library. This work is in honor and memory of Prof. Paolo Lazzarin who
suddenly passed away in September 2014.
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