SUBJECT: Ph.D. Dissertation Defense
BY: Yan Li
TIME: Thursday, July 31, 2014, 10:00 a.m.
PLACE: MRDC Building, 2405
TITLE: Prediction of Material Fracture Toughness as Function of Microstructure
COMMITTEE: Dr. Min Zhou, Chair (ME)
Dr. David L. McDowell (MSE)
Dr. Richard W. Neu (ME)
Dr. Ting Zhu (ME)
Dr. Shuman Xia (ME)
Dr. Donald S. Shih (Boeing)


Microstructure determines fracture toughness of materials through the activation of different fracture mechanisms. To tailor the fracture toughness through microstructure design, it is important to establish relations between microstructure and fracture toughness. To this end, systematic characterization of microstructures, explicit tracking of crack propagation process and realistic representation of deformation and fracture at different length scales are required. A cohesive finite element method (CFEM) based multiscale framework is proposed for analyzing the effect of microstructural heterogeneity, phase morphology, texture, constituent behavior and interfacial bonding strength on fracture toughness. The approach uses the J-integral to calculate the initiation/propagation fracture toughness, allowing explicit representation of realistic microstructures and fundamental fracture mechanisms. Based on the CFEM results, a semi-empirical model is developed to establish a quantitative relation between the propagation toughness and statistical measures of microstructure, fracture mechanisms, constituent and interfacial properties. The analytical model provides deeper insights into the fracture process as it quantitatively predicts the proportion of each fracture mechanism in the heterogeneous microstructure. The methodology developed in this thesis can be applied to both brittle and ductile materials. It is potentially useful for both the selection of materials and tailoring of microstructure to improve fracture resistance.