Investigation of incremental fatigue crack growth mechanisms using in situ SEM testing

Wei Zhang, Yongming Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


A novel in situ scanning electron microscope (SEM) fatigue testing is proposed in this paper to investigate the fatigue crack growth mechanisms within one cyclic loading under plane stress conditions. The objectives of the experimental study are to verify the hypotheses of a small time scale fatigue crack growth model and to develop a new experimental methodology for the detailed mechanism investigation of fatigue crack growth. During the testing, one loading cycle is uniformly divided into a certain number of steps. At each step, high resolution images are taken around the crack tip region. Imaging analysis is used to quantify the crack growth kinetics and crack tip deformation behavior at any time instant in a loading cycle. Crack closure phenomenon is directly observed during the crack growth process in the current investigation. It is also observed that crack growth is not uniformly distributed within a loading cycle and only happens during a small portion of the loading path. Multiple mechanisms exist within one cyclic loading, which is not able to be captured using the classical cycle-based approaches. A detailed discussion is given based on the current investigation to explain some well-known issues in the classical fatigue theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-23
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Fatigue
StatePublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Crack closure
  • Crack growth
  • Fatigue
  • In situ
  • SEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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