The use of fractals in the analysis of fracture surfaces is increasingly being investigated in the hope that this concept may provide a means of characterizing these complex irregular surfaces. While the preliminary experimental evidence is interesting and encouraging, questions concerning the correct measurement and interpretation of fracture surface fractal dimension remain. This paper seeks to address these issues to the extent possible. In particular, it is noted that currently accepted techniques for measuring surface fractal dimension are flawed, and a new alternate technique based on vertical section profilometry is proposed. Important aspects of this new technique are that it is assumption-free and the required data are obtained by standard methods involving reasonable operator effort. Finally, possible interpretations of fractal results are briefly discussed, focusing on potential advantages of use of the entire “fractal plot” for developing a clearer understanding of surface geometry and the role of microstructure in the failure event.
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