Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 42, Issue 10, pp 3508–3519 | Cite as

Contact damage initiation in silicon nitride in Hertzian indentation: role of microstructure

  • Guang-Yong Lin
  • Ramaswamy Lakshminarayanan
  • Dinesh K. ShettyEmail author


A bearing-grade silicon nitride with fine microstructure and a turbine-grade silicon nitride with coarse microstructure were studied with respect to the influence of their microstructures on (a) crack-growth-resistance behavior, (b) strength degradation due to Vickers indentation, and (c) crack initiation in quasi-static indentation with WC spheres. The turbine grade exhibited strong rising crack-growth resistance and less strength degradation due to Vickers indentation as compared to the bearing grade. Partial-ring or C cracks initiated in Hertzian indentation and the critical loads exhibited linear (Auerbach) variation with indenter radius above a critical value. For smaller radius, indentation plasticity preceded C-crack initiation. The bearing grade exhibited higher critical loads for C-crack initiation, but showed greater extension toward a ring crack than the turbine grade. These differences in crack initiation and growth were consistent with the differences in crack initiation and propagation toughness of the two grades. A ball-on-ball impact analysis was used to predict the critical velocities for initiating C cracks in the impact of silicon nitride surfaces with WC spheres.


Fracture Toughness Critical Load Silicon Nitride Ball Radius Cone Crack 



Research at University of Utah was supported by a subcontract under the DARPA-AMP Cooperative Agreement No. N00014-96-2-0014 with Sunstrand Aerospace Company.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guang-Yong Lin
    • 1
  • Ramaswamy Lakshminarayanan
    • 1
  • Dinesh K. Shetty
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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