Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Materials Science and Engineering

Major Professor

Peter K. Liaw

Committee Members

Hahn Choo, Yanfei Gao, John D. Landes


The overload and/or underload occurring during constant-amplitude fatiguecrack growth result in the retardation and/or acceleration in the crack-growth rate, making it difficult to predict the crack-propagation behavior and fatigue lifetime. Although there have been numerous investigations to account for these transient crackgrowth behavior, the phenomena are still not completely understood.

Neutron and X-ray diffraction, and electric-potential measurements were employed to investigate these transient crack-growth micromechanisms; gain a thorough understanding of the crack-tip deformation and fracture behaviors under applied loads; and establish a quantitative relationship between the crack-tip-driving force and crack-growth behavior. Five different fatigue-crack-growth experiments (i.e., fatigued, tensile overloaded, compressive underloaded, tensile overloaded-compressive underloaded, and compressive underloaded-tensile overloaded) were performed to observe these transient crack-growth behaviors. The development of internal-strain distributions during variable-amplitude loadings, and the resultant residual-stress distributions around a crack tip were examined using neutron diffraction.

The effects of a single tensile overload on fatigue-crack growth were focused on probing the crack-growth-retardation micromechanisms. Neutron diffraction and polychromatic X-ray microdiffraction showed high dislocation densities and considerable crystallographic tilts near the crack tip immediately after the overload. The interactions between the overload-induced plastic zone and newly-developed fatigue plastic zone, and their influences on the evolution of residual-strain profiles are discussed.

Neutron-diffraction and electric-potential measurements provide in-situ observation of the crack-opening/closing processes and internal-stress distributions in the vicinity of the crack tip during real-time fatigue-crack propagation following a tensile overload. Immediately after applying a tensile overload, the crack-tip became blunt and the large compressive residual stresses were developed around the crack tip. In the retardation period after the tensile overloading, the combined effects of the cracktip blunting at an overload point and compressive-residual stresses accompanying the crack closure induced the stress concentration at a blunting region until a maximum crack-arrest load was reached. Then, the stress concentration was transferred from the blunting region to actual crack-tip position with gradual crack opening, requiring a higher applied load. This observation of the stress-transfer phenomenon significantly promotes the fundamental understanding of overload-retardation phenomena. The postoverload crack-growth rates were normalized with the effective-stress-intensity-factor range, which suggests that it can be considered as the fatigue-crack-tip-driving force.

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