New method can pinpoint cracks in metal long before they cause catastrophes — ScienceDaily

When metallic components in airplanes, bridges and other structures crack, the results are often catastrophic. But Johns Hopkins University researchers have found a way to reliably predict the vulnerabilities earlier than current tests.

In a paper published today in Science, Johns Hopkins University researchers detail a new method for testing metals at a microscopic scale that allows them to rapidly inflict repetitive loads on materials while recording how ensuing damage evolves into cracks.

“We’re able now to have a more fundamental understanding about what leads up to cracks,” El-Awady said. “The practical implication is that it will allow us to understand and predict when or how the material is going to fail.”

Whether it is the pounding of vehicles on bridges or shifts in air pressure on airplanes, such continuous change called “cyclic loading” gradually induces slips in the internal molecular structure of the most durable metals until cracks

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