On the interactions between strain accumulation, microstructure, and fatigue crack behavior

Jay D. Carroll, Wael Z. Abuzaid, John Lambros, Huseyin Sehitoglu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fatigue crack growth is a complex process that involves interactions between many elements ranging across several length scales. This work provides an in-depth, experimental study of fatigue crack growth and the relationships between four of these elements: strain field, microstructure, crack path, and crack growth rate. Multiple data sets were acquired for fatigue crack growth in a nickel-based superalloy, Hastelloy X. Electron backscatter diffraction was used to acquire microstructural information, scanning electron microscopy was used to identify locations of slip bands and crack path, and optical microscopy was used to measure crack growth rates and to acquire images for multiscale digital image correlation (DIC). Plastic strain accumulation associated with fatigue crack growth was measured at the grain level using DIC. An ex situ technique provided sub-grain level resolution to measure strain variations within individual grains while an in situ technique over the same regions showed the evolution of strain with crack propagation. All of these data sets were spatially aligned to allow direct, full-field comparisons among the variables. This in-depth analysis of fatigue crack behavior elucidates several relationships among the four elements mentioned above. Near the crack tip, lobes of elevated strain propagated with the crack tip plastic zone. Behind the crack tip, in the plastic wake, significant inhomogeneities were observed and related to grain geometry and orientation. Grain structure was shown to affect the crack path and the crack growth rate locally, although the global crack growth rate was relatively constant as predicted by the Paris law for loading with a constant stress intensity factor. Some dependency of crack growth rate on local strain and crack path was also found. The experimental comparisons of grain structure, strain field, and crack growth behavior shown in this work provide insight into the fatigue crack growth process at the sub-grain and multi-grain scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-241
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Fracture
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Digital image correlation
  • Experimental
  • Fatigue crack propagation
  • Microstructure
  • Plasticity
  • Strain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Mechanics of Materials


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