"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." ~ Albert Einstein
Unexpected and recurrent failures can be a real problem. Post-mortem component failure is an excellent way to dig deeper in the quest for determining the route causes.
A specific sub-area of this is Fractography; the study of the fracture surfaces of materials, and is a technique routinely used to determine the cause of failure in engineering structures, especially in product failure and the practice of failure analysis.
One of the aims of fractographic examination is to determine the cause of failure by studying the characteristics of a fractured surface. Different types of crack growth (e.g. fatigue, stress corrosion cracking, hydrogen embrittlement) produce characteristic features on the surface, which can be used to help identify the failure mode.
Fractography by Scanning electron microscopy
Fractography often requires examination on a miniature scale. Whilst standard “light” microscopy can be used, the focal range and degree of magnification available is limited. For this reason, Monition routinely carry out scanning electron microscopy or SEM.
We also combine this technique with Energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy or EDX, allowing areas of the sample to be analysed for their elemental composition, or mapped for elemental density across a full image.