Plastic zone size estimation under cyclic loadings using in situ optical microscopy fatigue testing

W. Zhang, Y. Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


An in situ optical microscopy fatigue testing is proposed in this paper to investigate the forward and reversed plastic zone size under cyclic loadings for Al-7075-T6. This experimental study is used to verify the hypotheses in a recently developed small time scale formulation of fatigue crack growth. During the testing, the entire cyclic loading cycle is divided into a certain number of steps. Images of the crack tip are taken at each step. The full strain field around the crack tip is determined using the digital image correlation (DIC) technique. The plastic zone size is obtained by combining the DIC results and the material constitutive relationship. Experimental measurements from the proposed study are compared with theoretical predictions. It is observed that the crack closure has a large effect on the reversed plastic zone size. The plastic zone size remains almost constant when the unloading path is below a certain stress level, which is one of the hypotheses used in a previous crack growth model. Discussions are given for the modelling of plastic zone size variation under cyclic loadings and several conclusions are drawn based on the current investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)717-727
Number of pages11
JournalFatigue and Fracture of Engineering Materials and Structures
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • crack closure
  • digital image correlation
  • fatigue
  • optical microscopy
  • plastic zone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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