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EPSRC Reference: EP/M000966/1
Title: Dislocation-Microstructure Interaction at a Crack Tip - In Search of a Driving Force for Short Crack Growth
Principal Investigator: Zhao, Professor L
Other Investigators:
Silberschmidt, Professor V Roy, Professor A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Alstom Group Defence Science & Tech Lab DSTL Rolls-Royce Plc
Department: Wolfson Sch of Mech, Elec & Manufac Eng
Organisation: Loughborough University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 24 October 2014 Ends: 23 April 2019 Value (£): 401,631
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Characterisation Materials testing & eng.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Aerospace, Defence and Marine
Related Grants:
EP/M000737/1 EP/M000710/1
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
18 Jun 2014 Engineering Prioritisation Meeting - June 2014 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Nickel-based superalloys are particularly used in applications involving high temperatures and stresses, such as the critical gas-turbine blades and discs in aerospace and power-generation industries. The behaviour of short cracks in nickel superalloys is of particular importance for component design and life prediction, as a large proportion of service life is spent in the growth of small cracks before final failure. Due to the strong influence of local microstructure and heterogeneous stress/strain fields, short cracks are known to grow anomalously under fatigue and tend to exhibit high, irregular and scattered growth rates. The physical driving force for short crack growth is still not well understood yet despite intensive research effort, mainly due to the limited understanding of crack-tip behaviour.

This proposal aims to investigate the fundamental deformation mechanism at the tip of a short crack for nickel-based superalloys under fatigue at a range of temperatures. The research will focus on the influence of evolving local plasticity, induced by dislocation dynamics at the crack tip, on short crack growth. The interaction between dislocation and material microstructure is the major source for heterogeneous plasticity and internal stress concentration, leading to initiation and growth of short cracks. Short crack growth testing in a controlled environment will be carried out to study the anomalous behaviour of short crack growth in these alloys under fatigue, which is the expertise of UoS. Temperature will be varied in order to observe the critical effect of temperature change on the slip behaviour near the crack tip. Following crack growth tests, post-mortem transmission-electron-microscopy analyses of crack-tip zone will be performed to reveal the detailed mechanisms for nucleation and multiplication of dislocations, pile-up and penetration of dislocations at phase/grain boundaries and the influence of grain misorientations on dislocation behaviour. In particular, match-stick samples will be extracted from the crack-tip fracture process zone of fatigue-tested specimens to allow in-situ measurements of crack tip deformation under fatigue, which are the established techniques at UoM. In this case, high resolution digital image correlation, with the assistance of grain orientation mapping and scanning-electron-microscopy imaging of gold remodelled surfaces, will be used to quantify shear strain in slip traces formed near the crack tip during fatigue loading. In addition, high energy synchrotron X-ray diffraction studies will be carried out to measure the elastic strain response and load transfer between different phases around the crack tip, which will provide insight regarding the penetration of dislocations into the gamma-prime precipitates.

To physically simulate the material plasticity behaviour, a three-dimensional discrete-dislocation-dynamics (DDD) approach will be developed to model the interaction between dislocations and material microstructures, which is the strength of LU, based on experimental results. The DDD model will be interfaced with viscoplasticity and crystal plasticity models, and further applied to investigate the role of dislocation dynamics in depicting short crack growth. A multi-scale finite element method will be established for the crack-tip deformation analyses, which aims to identify a micromechanics-based driving force for short crack growth. Computational simulations will be thoroughly validated against local strain measurements (at both mesoscale and microscale), in-situ and post-mortem measurements as well as X-ray tomography of extracted match-stick samples. The ultimate goal is to deliver an efficient finite element procedure to predict short crack growth, with full validation against the experimental data, for end users.
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Organisation Website: http://www.lboro.ac.uk