An overview of recent developments in quantitative fractography (QF) and computed tomography (CT) is presented with emphasis on applications of these tools to failure analysis and the identification of fundamental fracture processes. QF yields information concerning the geometric attributes of the microstructural features on the fracture surface and quantitative descriptors of the fracture surface geometry. By way of example, this methodology is applied to the case of a composite fabricated from an Al/Li matrix and alumina (Al2O3) fibers to delineate those defects which play the most important role in the fracture process.
The internal damage state of a material can be studied by CT; such information is not accessible through conventional fractographic approaches. CT results for damage detection are given for graphite/epoxy and metal-matrix composites. New applications of CT to address important unanswered questions in the fracture field are suggested.
Integration of QF, stereology, and CT has the potential to evolve into a very powerful method for the study of failure processes in all classes of materials.