Fatigue-Crack Growth Behavior in the Superelastic and Shape-Memory Alloy Nitinol

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-743
Journal / PublicationMetallurgical and Materials Transactions A: Physical Metallurgy and Materials Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2001
Externally publishedYes


This article presents a study of fatigue-crack propagation behavior in Nitinol, a 50Ni-50Ti (at. pct) superelastic/shape-memory alloy, with particular emphasis on the effect of the stress-induced martens- itic transformation on crack-growth resistance. Specifically, fatigue-crack growth was characterized in stable austenite (at 120 °C), superelastic austenite (at 37 °C), and martensite (at -65 °C and -196 °C). In general, fatigue-crack growth resistance was found to increase with decreasing temperature, such that fatigue thresholds were higher and crack-growth rates slower in martensite compared to stable austenite and superelastic austenite. Of note was the observation that the stress-induced transformation of the superelastic austenite structure, which occurs readily at 37 °C during uniaxial tensile testing, could be suppressed during fatigue-crack propagation by the tensile hydrostatic stress state ahead of a crack tip in plane strain; this effect, however, was not seen in thinner specimens, where the constraint was relaxed due to prevailing plane-stress conditions.