Aluminum alloys are used on aerospace vehicles due to their high strength-to-weight ratio, formability and machinability. However, they become vulnerable to stress corrosion cracking (SCC) during their service life. SCC is primarily caused by the material's stress condition, a suitable corrosive environment and material susceptibility. It is also influenced by a mixture of electrochemical, mechanical, and chemical factors. Due to the complexity of SCC, tools with better resolution and sensitivity are needed to better understand the impact and interaction of the contributing factors. A vast amount of research has been done to study SCC behavior, but the scale of characterization must be reduced to elucidate the key initiation mechanisms. In this work, it is shown that SCC initiation was detected early via micro-digital image correlation (micro-DIC) prior to the crack being discernible in microscopy images. The initial effort to monitor stress corrosion cracking in AA7075-T6 involved using a pixel resolution of 3.825 microns/pixel, frame rate of 10-15 min/image and an airbrush nozzle diameter of 0.3 mm for the speckle pattern, which led to the detection of crack initiation at 98% failure load. By using a pixel resolution that is 6 times smaller, a frame rate of up to 60 times less time per image, and an airbrush nozzle that is 2 times smaller, the first observation of strain concentration marking the eventual failure region of the AA7075-T6 sample was detected as early as 58% failure load. When the micro-DIC technique was applied to study SCC behavior in additively manufactured AlSi10Mg, the first observation of localized strain marking the eventual failure region of the sample was detected at 78% failure load. X-ray synchrotron tomography was used to qualitatively assess the hydrogen bubble and precipitate formation and to quantitatively assess the post initiation crack growth in AA7075-T651. With improved micro-DIC parameters and correlation with experimental outcomes from x-ray synchrotron tomography, multiple factors contributing to SCC can be assessed to better understand the mechanisms of SCC initiation. Correlations of material exposure time and load with SCC initiation can provide data for developing corrosion control strategies and new and improved alloys or heat treatment, as well as understanding SCC behavior in alloys made through unconventional means, such as additive manufacturing. The impact of this work lies in the life extension of alloys and greater reusability and fatigue life extension of aerospace vehicles.


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Graduation Date





Raghavan, Seetha


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Degree Program

Aerospace Engineering


CFE0009518; DP0027522





Release Date

May 2023

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)