Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Chemical and Materials Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Tongguang Zhai


An experimental method was further developed to quantify the anisotropy of multi-site fatigue crack initiation behaviors in high strength Al alloys by four-point bend fatigue testing under stress control. In this method, fatigue crack initiation sites (fatigue weak-links, FWLs) were measured on the sample surface at different cyclic stress levels. The FWL density in an alloy could be best described using a three-parameter Weibull function of stress, though other types of sigmoidal functions might also be used to quantify the relationship between FWL density and stress. The strength distribution of the FWLs was derived from the Weibull function determined by fitting the FWLs vs. stress curve experimentally obtained. As materials properties, the FWL density and strength distribution could be used to evaluate the fatigue crack nucleation behaviors of engineering alloys quantitatively and the alloy quality in terms of FWL density and strength distribution. In this work, the effects of environment, types of microstructural heterogeneities and loading direction on FWLs were all studied in detail in AA7075-T651, AA2026-T3511, and A713 Al alloys, etc. It was also found that FWLs should be quantified as a Weibull-type function of strain instead of stress, when the applied maximum cyclic stress exceeded the yield strength of the tested alloys.

In this work, four-point bend fatigue tests were conducted on the L-T (Rolling-Transverse), L-S (Rolling-Short transverse) and T-S planes of an AA7075-T651 alloy plate, respectively, at room temperature, 20 Hz, R=0.1, in air. The FWL populations, measured on these surfaces, were a Weibull-type function of the applied maximum cyclic stress, from which FWL density and strength distribution could be determined. The alloy showed a significant anisotropy of FWLs with the weak-link density being 11 mm-2, 15 mm-2 and 4 mm-2 on the L-T, L-S and T-S planes, respectively. Fatigue cracks were predominantly initiated at Fe-containing particles on the L-T and L-S planes, but only at Si-bearing particles on the T-S plane, profoundly demonstrating that the pre-fractured Fe-containing particles were responsible for crack initiation on the L-T and L-S planes, since the pre-fracture of these particles due to extensive deformation in the L direction during the prior rolling operation could only promote crack initiation when the sample was cyclically stressed in the L direction on both the L-T and L-S planes. The fatigue strengths of the L-T, L-S and T-S planes of the AA7075 alloy were measured to be 243.6, 273.0 and 280.6 MPa, respectively. The differences in grain and particle structures between these planes were responsible for the anisotropy of fatigue strength and FWLs on these planes.

Three types of fatigue cracks from particles, type-I: the micro-cracks in the particles could not propagate into the matrix, i.e., type-II: the micro-cracks were fully arrested soon after they propagated into the matrix, and type-III: the micro-cracks became long cracks, were observed in the AA7075-T651 alloy after fatigue testing. By cross-sectioning these three-types of particles using Focused Ion Beam (FIB), it was found that the thickness of the particles was the dominant factor controlling fatigue crack initiation at the particles, namely, the thicker a pre-fractured Fe-containing particle, the easier it became a type-III crack on the L-T and L-S planes. On the T-S plane, there were only types-I and III Si-bearing particles at which crack were initiated. The type-I particles were less than 6.5 μm in thickness and type-III particles were thicker than 8.3 μm. Cross-sectioning of these particles using FIB revealed that these particles all contained gas pores which promoted crack initiation at the particles because of higher stress concentration at the pores in connection with the particles. It was also found that fatigue cracks did not always follow the any specific crystallographic planes within each grain, based on the Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD) measurement. Also, the grain orientation did not show a strong influence on crack initiation at particles which were located within the grains. The topography measurements with an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) revealed that Fe-containing particles were protruded on the mechanically polished surface, while the Si-bearing particles were intruded on the surface, which was consistent with hardness measurements showing that Si-bearing particles were softer (4.030.92 GPa) than Fe-containing ones (8.9 0.87 GPa) in the alloy.

To verify the 3-D effects of the pre-fractured particles on fatigue crack initiation in high strength Al alloys, rectangular micro-notches of three different types of dimensions were fabricated using FIB in the selected grains on the T-S planes of both AA2024-T351 and AA7075-T651 Al alloys, to mimic the three types of pre-fractured particles found in these alloys. Fatigue testing on these samples with the micro-notches verified that the wider and deeper the micro-notches, the easier fatigue cracks could be initiated at the notches. In the AA2024-T351 samples, cracks preferred to propagate along the {111} slip plane with the smallest twist angle and relatively large Schmid factor. These experimental data obtained in this work could pave a way to building a 3-D quantitative model for quantification of fatigue crack initiation behaviors by taking into account the driving force and resistance to short crack growth at the particles in the surface of these alloys.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)