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Corrosion fatigue is a generic term that is used to describe the phenomenon of cracking (including environment-enhanced fatigue crack growth) in materials under the combined actions of an applied cyclic stress and a corrosive (aggressive) environment. Quantitative characterization and understanding have been hampered by the complexity of the problem, difficulties in separating the effects associated with crack initiation and crack growth, and by the absence of a truly interdisciplinary attack of the problem. With the development of fracture mechanics technology and sophisticated techniques such as Auger electron spectroscopy and low-energy electron diffraction analysis, quantification of environment-enhanced fatigue crack growth has now been placed on a reasonably firm basis in terms of both steady-state and transient responses. Understanding of the chemical processes that control environment-enhanced fatigue crack growth is beginning to emerge from coordinated mechanical, metallurgical, and chemical studies. A fundamental approach that underlies these studies and recent progress using this approach are described. Areas and directions for future research are discussed.
corrosion fatigue, fatigue crack growth, fracture mechanics, metals, surface chemistry
Professor of mechanics, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa.