Experiments have shown that shear waves induced in brain tissue can develop into shock waves, thus providing a possible explanation of deep traumatic brain injuries. Here, we study the formation of shock waves in soft viscoelastic solids subject to an imposed velocity at their boundary. We consider the plane shearing motion of a semi-infinite half-space, which corresponds to a spatially one-dimensional problem. Incompressible soft solids whose behaviour is described by the Fung–Simo quasi-linear viscoelasticity theory (QLV) are considered, where the elastic response is either exponential or polynomial of Mooney–Rivlin–Yeoh type. Waveform breaking can occur at the blow-up of acceleration waves, leading to one sufficient condition for the formation of shocks. A slow scale analysis based on a small amplitude parameter yields a damped Burgers-like equation, thus leading to another shock formation condition. Numerical experiments performed using a dedicated finite volume scheme show that these estimates have limited accuracy. Their validity is restricted in the elastic limit too, where exact shock formation conditions are known.
Nonlinear acoustics, Viscoelasticity, Finite-volume method, Soft solids, Shock formation, Acceleration waves