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Suresh, Subra, 3.35 Fracture and Fatigue, Fall 2003. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 07 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Fracture and Fatigue

Fall 2003

Two different line-integral paths around a crack tip.
Two different line-integral paths around a crack tip. (Image courtesy of Subra Suresh.)

Course Highlights

This course includes lecture notes, readings and a complete set of assignments with solutions.

Course Description

Investigation of linear elastic and elastic-plastic fracture mechanics. Topics include microstructural effects on fracture in metals, ceramics, polymers, thin films, biological materials and composites, toughening mechanisms, crack growth resistance and creep fracture. Also covered: interface fracture mechanics, fatigue damage and dislocation substructures in single crystals, stress- and strain-life approach to fatigue, fatigue crack growth models and mechanisms, variable amplitude fatigue, corrosion fatigue and case studies of fracture and fatigue in structural, bioimplant, and microelectronic components.

*Some translations represent previous versions of courses.



Two sessions / week
1.5 hours / session


Exam 1 - October 23 - in class
Exam 2 - December 9 - in class

Problem Sets

Problem sets are due in class one week after assigned.
Late submissions not accepted.


Exam 1: 30%
Exam 2: 40%
Problem Sets: 30%



Suresh, S. Fatigue of Materials. 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press, 1998.


Anderson, T. L. Fracture Mechanics. 2nd ed. CRC Press, 1995.

Hertzberg, R. W. Deformation and Fracture Mechanics of Engineering Materials. 4th ed. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996.

Lawn, B. R. Fracture of Brittle Solids. Cambridge University Press, 1993.


1 Introduction
  • Fracture and fatigue of bulk materials, thin films and surfaces
  • Macroscopic failure modes
  • Microscopic failure modes
2-3 Mechanics of Fracture
  • Energy release rate and crack driving force
  • Linear elastic fracture mechanics
  • Elastic-plastic fracture mechanics
  • Resistance curves
  • Measurement matters and ASTM standards
4-5 Micromechanisms of Fracture
  • Ductile failure
  • Transitions in fracture modes
  • Stress-based criteria
  • Strain-based criteria
  • Energy-based criteria
6-7 Microstructural Effects
  • Ferrous alloys
  • Aluminum alloys
  • Matrix failure versus grain boundary fracture
  • Damage processes in ceramics and polymers
  • Thin films and surface coatings
8 Interface Fracture Mechanics and Toughness Locus
  • Elasticity aspects
  • Plasticity aspects
9 Toughening Mechanisms
  • Deflection toughening
  • Process zone toughening
  • Ligament toughening
  • Interfacial toughening
10 Fracture Mechanisms in Polymers
  • Crazing
  • Shear localization
  • Rubber toughening
11 Thin Films, Coatings and Layered Materials
  • Thermal residual stresses
  • Fracture mechanisms
  • Compositionally graded structural and thin-film layers
12 Practical Considerations
  • Design
  • Case studies
13 EXAM 1
14 Overview
  • Historical background
  • Different approaches to fatigue
15 Micromechanisms of Fatigue Crack Initiation in Ductile and Brittle Solids
  • Cyclic hardening and evolution of dislocation patterns
  • Persistent slip bands and surface roughening
  • Slip-based models for fatigue crack initiation
  • Crack initiation in commercial materials, ceramics and polymers
16 Total-Life Approaches to Fatigue
  • Stress-life approach (S-N curves)
  • Strain-life approaches
  • Concept of damage accumulation
  • Some practical considerations
17 Fatigue Crack Growth in Ductile Metals and Alloys
  • Fracture mechanics characterization
  • Fatigue life calculations
  • Different microscopic and macroscopic stages of fatigue crack growth
  • Models of formation of ductile striations and crack growth
18 Fatigue Crack Growth in Brittle Solids
  • Constitutive models for cyclic deformation in ceramics
  • Room and high-fatigue crack growth in ceramics
19 Fatigue Crack Growth in Polymeric Materials
  • Cyclic deformation characteristics
  • Micromechanisms of fatigue crack growth
  • Microscopic "signature" due to crazing and shear banding
20 Mechanisms of Fatigue Crack Growth Retardation
  • Different types of crack closure (experiments, analyses and numerical simulations)
  • Fatigue crack deflection (models and microstructural examples)
  • Crack-tip versus crack-wake effects
  • Crack retardation following tensile overloads
21 Corrosion Fatigue and Creep Fatigue
  • Effect of environments
  • Fracture mechanics characterization of creep fatigue
  • Case study of failure in power generation equipment, autovalves
22 Fatigue at Interfaces
  • Fatigue fracture parallel to a bimaterial interface
  • Fatigue fracture normal to a bimaterial interface
  • Fatigue of coatings
  • Thermomechanical fatigue of coated and layered materials
23-24 Case Studies
  • 1985 Japan Airlines Plane Crash
  • Failure analysis of a total-hip and knee replacement component
  • Failure of laser-linked metal interconnects in microelectronics
  • Critical issues in the failure of mechanical heart valves
  • Fatigue failure in turbogenerators
25 EXAM 2   Tell A Friend