Nanoscopic fatigue and stress corrosion crack growth behaviour in a high-strength stainless steel visualized in situ by atomic force microscopy
In situ atomic force microscope (AFM) imaging of the fatigue and stress corrosion (SC) crack in a high-strength stainless steel was performed, under both static and dynamic loading. The AFM systems used were (1) a newly developed AFM-based system for analysing the nanoscopic topographies of environmentally induced damage under dynamic loads in a controlled environment and (2) an AFM system having a large sample stage together with a static in-plane loading device. By using these systems, in situ serial clear AFM images of an environmentally induced crack under loading could be obtained in a controlled environment, such as in dry air for the fatigue and in an aqueous solution for the stress corrosion cracking (SCC). The intergranular static SC crack at the free corrosion had a sharp crack tip when it grew straight along a grain boundary. The in situ AFM observations showed that the fatigue crack grew in a steady manner on the order of sub-micrometre. The same result was obtained for the static SC crack under the free corrosion, growing straight along a grain boundary. In these cases, the crack tip opening displacement (CTOD) remained constant. However, as the static SC crack was approaching a triple grain junction, the growth rate became smaller, the CTOD value increased and the hollow ahead of the crack tip became larger. After the crack passed through the triple grain junction, it grew faster with a lower CTOD value; the changes in the CTOD value agreed with those of the crack growth rate. At the cathodic potential, the static SC crack grew in a zigzag path and in an unsteady manner, showing crack growth acceleration and retardation. This unsteady crack growth was considered to be due to the changes in the local hydrogen content near the crack tip. The changes in the CTOD value also agreed with those of the crack growth rate. The CTOD value in the corrosive environment was influenced by the microstructure of the material and the local hydrogen content, showing a larger scatter band, whereas the CTOD value of the fatigue crack in dry air was determined by the applied stress intensity factor, with a smaller scatter band. In addition, the CTOD value in the corrosive environment under both static and dynamic loading was smaller than that of the fatigue crack; the environmentally induced crack had a sharper crack tip than the fatigue crack in dry air.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: 1: Department of Mechanical Engineering and Systems, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University, Yamadaoka 2-1, Suita, Osaka, 565-0871, Japan 2: Suntory Ltd., Dohjimahama 2-1-40, Kitaku, Osaka, 530-8203, Japan 3: Fukui National College of Technology, Geshicho, Sabae, Fukui, 916-8501, Japan
Publication date: November 1, 2005