Physics of Degradation

  • J. W. McPherson


Regardless how carefully crafted, devices are made of materials that generally exist in metastable states. A state is referred to as being metastable if it is only apparently stable and susceptible to change/degradation. The driving force for materials degradation is a lower Gibbs Potential. When we apply a generalized stress ξ to a material, it tends to increase (not lower) the Gibbs Potential. Therefore, a stressed material is even more unstable and even more susceptible to degradation. Since devices are fabricated from materials (and materials degrade with time), then devices will degrade with time. Engineers are confronted with the very difficult situation—they must manage the degradation rate in order to prevent failure.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • J. W. McPherson
    • 1
  1. 1.McPherson Reliability Consulting, LLCPlanoUSA

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