Fracture of a Brittle-Particle Ductile Matrix Composite with Applications to a Coating System
In material systems consisting of hard second phase particles in a ductile matrix, failure initiating from cracking of the second phase particles is an important failure mechanism. This dissertation applies the principles of fracture mechanics to consider this problem, first from the standpoint of fracture of the particles, and then the onset of crack propagation from fractured particles. This research was inspired by the observation of the failure mechanism of a commercial zinc-based anti-corrosion coating and the analysis was initially approached as coatings problem. As the work progressed it became evident that failure mechanism was relevant to a broad range of composite material systems and research approach was generalized to consider failure of a system consisting of ellipsoidal second phase particles in a ductile matrix. The starting point for the analysis is the classical Eshelby Problem, which considered stress transfer from the matrix to an ellipsoidal inclusion. The particle fracture problem is approached by considering cracks within particles and how they are affected by the particle/matrix interface, the difference in properties between the particle and matrix, and by particle shape. These effects are mapped out for a wide range of material combinations. The trends developed show that, although the particle fracture problem is very complex, the potential for fracture among a range of particle shapes can, for certain ranges in particle shape, be considered easily on the basis of the Eshelby Stress alone. Additionally, the evaluation of cracks near the curved particle/matrix interface adds to the existing body of work of cracks approaching bi-material interfaces in layered material systems. The onset of crack propagation from fractured particles is then considered as a function of particle shape and mismatch in material properties between the particle and matrix. This behavior is mapped out for a wide range of material combinations. The final section of this dissertation qualitatively considers an approach to determine critical particle sizes, below which crack propagation will not occur for a coating system that exhibited stable cracks in an interfacial layer between the coating and substrate.