Crack gages are sensors designed to monitor crack initiation and growth in engineering structures by alteration of electrical conductance. Present gages involve a thick (5 μm) metal foil on an even thicker polymer substrate and are not suitable for use on brittle materials where the crack opening is small. The new technique employs a very thin (300 Å) gold film sputtered on a nonconducting brittle specimen. The method also enables crack propagation velocity to be estimated.

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