This article provides a comprehensive treatment of cracks in nonhomogeneous structural materials such as functionally graded materials. It is assumed that the material properties depend only on the coordinate perpendicular to the crack surfaces and vary continuously along the crack faces. By using a laminated composite plate model to simulate the material nonhomogeneity, we present an algorithm for solving the system based on the Laplace transform and Fourier transform techniques. Unlike earlier studies that considered certain assumed property distributions and a single crack problem, the current investigation studies multiple crack problems in the functionally graded materials with arbitrarily varying material properties. The algorithm can be applied to steady state or transient thermoelastic fracture problem with the inertial terms taken into account. As a numerical illustration, transient thermal stress intensity factors for a metal-ceramic joint specimen with a functionally graded interlayer subjected to sudden heating on its boundary are presented. The results obtained demonstrate that the present model is an efficient tool in the fracture analysis of nonhomogeneous material with properties varying in the thickness direction. *[S0021-8936(00)01601-9]*

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