When we observe the objects around us, wherever we look, we must search for a long time to find any that are made up of a homogeneous material, at either the macroscopic or microscopic level. The most common steel contains both ferrite and cementite; plastic materials are stiffened by mineral particles enrobed by a polymer matrix; the ceramic used in our daily pots combines crystallites bonded by a glassy phase. Mineral and organic glasses are frequently strengthened by a polycarbonate film or coated with an anti-scratch, anti-fouling or photochromic film.

In advanced technology, the search for optimal material/ function matching has led to an increasingly frequent use of “multimaterials”, “hybrid materials”, composites, brazed or adhesive bonding, coatings, and structural or functional multilayers. Practically all high-performance metallic alloys are strengthened by precipitates of various sizes, which hinder the dislocation motion that goes along with plasticity, but localize damage and promote crack initiation at the same time. Microelectronics’ integrated circuits combine fine metal deposits, insulators and semiconductors of very different types. Depending on the intended application, various functional characteristics are expected of the solid–solid interfaces that these single block pieces or components contain, but they are all heterogeneous at different scales. In every case, an adequate fracture resistance of interfaces is required to maintain the principal function ...

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