Mechanical and Environmental Factors in the Cyclic and Static Fatigue of Silicon Nitride

Authors

  • David S. Jacobs,

    1. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 43109-2136
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    • *

      Member, American Ceramic Society.

  • I-Wei Chen

    1. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 43109-2136
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    • *

      Member, American Ceramic Society.


  • K. Jnkus—contributing editor

  • Supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research under Grant No, 91–0094.

Abstract

The effects of environment on cyclic and static fatigue behavior were investigated with hot-pressed silicon nitride materials. Tests were conducted at ambient temperature on standard compact tension specimens, and a dc electric potential technique was used to monitor crack lengths in situ. The results indicate that the environmental sensitivity of our materials under both cyclic and static loading mirrors that of durable glasses in static fatigue. The materials were most sensitive to water in the environment, while changes in pH had no significant effect in the range tested. In addition, NH3 was much less reactive with our materials than with vitreous SiO2. In some cases, the intergranular glass appears to be the site of environmental interaction. Evidence was also found that cyclic fatigue is not simply a manifestation of static fatigue. Cyclic fatigue was seen to occur in the absence of measurable static fatigue, and the data indicate that the mechanism of cyclic fatigue involves damage to the crack wake shielding zone.

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