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Cyclic Contact Fatigue of Brittle Ceramics



Brian R. Lawn, Yeon-Gil G. Jung, D H. Kim, S K. Lee, I M. Peterson


Contact damage modes in cyclic loading with spheres are investigated in several ceramics, principally silicon nitride but also some ceramics used for dental restorations. Initial damage to small numbers of cycles and low loads consists of tensile-driven macroscopic cone cracks (brittle mode). Secondary damage at large numbers of cycles and high loads consists of shear-driven distributed microdamage (quasi-Plastic mode), with attendant radial cracks and a new form of deeply penetrating subsidiary cone cracks. Strength tests on indented specimens are used to quantify the degree of damage. Both damage modes degrade the strength: the first, immediately after cone crack initiation, relatively slowly; the second, after development of radial cracks, much more rapidly. Comparison with static contact data indicates a strong mechanical (as opposed to chemical) component in the cyclic fatigue in the quasi-plastic region. The basis for setting up fracture mechanics models is briefly discussed.
Proceedings Title
Fatigue 99 : Proceedings of the International Conference on Fatigue and Fatigue Thresholds
Conference Dates
June 1, 1999
Conference Location
Beijing, CH
Conference Title
International Conference on Fatigue and Fatigue Thresholds


brittle ceramics, cone cracks, contact fatigue, quasi-plasticity, radial cracks


Lawn, B. , Jung, Y. , Kim, D. , Lee, S. and Peterson, I. (1999), Cyclic Contact Fatigue of Brittle Ceramics, Fatigue 99 : Proceedings of the International Conference on Fatigue and Fatigue Thresholds, Beijing, CH, [online], (Accessed April 17, 2024)
Created May 10, 1999, Updated February 17, 2017