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Experimental determination of the fracture toughness via microscratch tests: Application to polymers, ceramics, and metals

  • Ange-Therese Akono (a1), Nicholas X. Randall (a2) and Franz-Josef Ulm (a3)


This article presents a novel microscratch technique for the determination of the fracture toughness of materials from scratch data. While acoustic emission and optical imaging devices provide quantitative evidence of fracture processes during scratch tests, the technique proposed here provides a quantitative means to assess the fracture toughness from the recorded forces and depth of penetration. We apply the proposed method to a large range of materials, from soft (polymers) to hard (metal), spanning fracture toughness values over more than two orders of magnitude. The fracture toughness values so obtained are in excellent agreement with toughness values obtained for the same materials by conventional fracture tests. The fact that the proposed microscratch technique is highly reproducible, almost nondestructive, and requires only small material volumes makes this technique a powerful tool for the assessment of fracture properties for microscale materials science and engineering applications.


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