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The Aqueous Chemistry of Oxides$
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Bruce C. Bunker and William H. Casey

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199384259

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199384259.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 04 December 2021

Stress Corrosion Cracking: Chemically Activated Nanomechanics

Stress Corrosion Cracking: Chemically Activated Nanomechanics

(p.481) 16 Stress Corrosion Cracking: Chemically Activated Nanomechanics
The Aqueous Chemistry of Oxides

Bruce C. Bunker

William H. Casey

Oxford University Press

Although dissolution reactions involving water can etch and decompose oxides, truly catastrophic failures of oxide structures usually involve fractures and mechanical failures. Geologists and geochemists have long recognized that water and ice both play key roles in promoting the fracture and crumbling of rock (see Chapter 17). Freezing and thawing create stresses that amplify the rate at which water attacks metal–oxygen bonds at the crack tip. The interplay between water and stressed oxides also leads to common failures in man-made objects, ranging from the growth of cracks from flaws in windshields to the rupture of optical fibers in communication systems. In this chapter, we outline how mechanical deformations change the reactivity of metal–oxygen bonds with respect to water and other chemicals, and how reactions on strained model compounds have been used to predict time to failure as a function of applied stress. The basic phenomenon of stress corrosion cracking is illustrated in Figure 16.1. Cracks can propagate through oxide materials at extremely fast rates, as anyone who has dropped a wine glass on the floor can attest. High-speed photography reveals that when glass shatters, cracks can spread at speeds of hundreds of meters per second, or half the speed of sound in the glass. At the other end of the spectrum, cracks in glass can grow from preexisting flaws so slowly that only a few chemical bonds are broken at the crack tip per hour. Because mechanical failures are associated with cracking, it is critical for design engineers to understand the factors that control crack growth rates for this enormous range of crack velocities (a factor of 1012). In addition, because it is difficult to measure crack velocities slower than 10−8 m/second, it is often necessary to make major extrapolations from measured data to predict the long-term reliability of glass and ceramic objects. Will an optical fiber under stress fail in 1 year or 10 years? Answering this question can require accurate extrapolations down to crack growth rates as low as 10−10 m/second.

Keywords:   Griffith crack growth law, Inglis model for crack tip stress, Van’t Hoff expression for pressure dependence of reactions, Weiderhorn equation for slow crack growth, absolute reaction-rate theory, crack blunting, dehydroxylated silica, fatigue limit in glass, hydrolytic weakening of glass, optical fibers

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