The crack initiation mechanism of cast Al-Si-Mg alloy under low-cycle fatigue was addressed by using the synchrotron X-ray computed tomography (CT) and the image-based finite element analysis. The fatigue test and its in situ CT observation were conducted to visualize the crack initiation behavior. In the low-cycle fatigue, the cracking generally started with the voiding by the fracture of silicon particles, and the coalescence of these voids formed the crack. To elucidate the mechanism of silicon particle fracture, the finite element elastic-plastic analyses were performed with regard to twelve silicon particles including the fractured and intact particles detected by the chronological CT observation. By using the image-based modeling technique, the interested particle was embedded in the finite element model along with the surrounding particles as they were in the specimen. The material properties of silicon phase and aluminum matrix were identified by the nanoindentation tests. Ten cycles of loading by the uniform stress which was equivalent to the load in the fatigue test was applied to the finite element model, and the stress, strain and their cyclic response around the silicon particles were simulated. The morphology analysis was also carried out for the interested particles, and the geometrical parameters affecting the particle fracture were examined. By comparing the results of fractured and intact particles, we found that there were some geometrical conditions for the fracture of silicon particles, and a certain magnitude of hydrostatic stress was required to break the particles.
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