Fatigue crack propagation in microcapsule-toughened epoxy

E. N. Brown, S. R. White, N. R. Sottos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The addition of liquid-filled urea-formaldehyde (UF) microcapsules to an epoxy matrix leads to significant reduction in fatigue crack growth rate and corresponding increase in fatigue life. Mode-I fatigue crack propagation is measured using a tapered double-cantilever beam (TDCB) specimen for a range of microcapsule concentrations and sizes: 0, 5, 10, and 20% by weight and 50, 180, and 460 μm diameter. Cyclic crack growth in both the neat epoxy and epoxy filled with microcapsules obeys the Paris power law. Above a transition value of the applied stress intensity factor ΔK T, which corresponds to loading conditions where the size of the plastic zone approaches the size of the embedded microcapsules, the Paris law exponent decreases with increasing content of microcapsules, ranging from 9.7 for neat epoxy to approximately 4.5 for concentrations above 10 wt% microcapsules. Improved resistance to fatigue crack propagation, indicated by both the decreased crack growth rates and increased cyclic stress intensity for the onset of unstable fatigue-crack growth, is attributed to toughening mechanisms induced by the embedded microcapsules as well as crack shielding due to the release of fluid as the capsules are ruptured. In addition to increasing the inherent fatigue life of epoxy, embedded microcapsules filled with an appropriate healing agent provide a potential mechanism for self-healing of fatigue damage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6266-6273
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Materials Science
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • General Materials Science
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)


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