Mechanical fatigue measurement via a vibrating cantilever beam for self-supported thin solid films

Yun-Che Wang, T. Höchbauer, John G Swadener, Amit Misra, R.G. Hoagland, M. Nastasi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we develop a novel experimental apparatus, referred to as the resonant frequency device, and establish methodology to measure the fatigue properties of thin solid films. Arranging thin-film strips of our specimens into the mechanical setting of a cantilever beam and using state-of-the-art piezo actuators to generate oscillation at the clamp of the cantilever, we create a system suitable for studying the material properties of the cantilever, such as Young's modulus, fatigue and possibly, loss tangent. Deformation of the cantilever is our controlled variable in the present study, and measured with fiber-optic probes pointed at the specimen and at the piezo driver. Stress is calculated from relative deformation of the cantilever specimen with respect to the piezo actuator via a photograph of the cantilever under vibration with a curve fitting method. A LabView computer program is developed for the fatigue tests to accurately count number of cycles applied on the specimens, and a feedback mechanism is adopted to maintain displacement during the tests. Here, we present our experimental setup, procedure and theoretical models for material-property extraction. For small displacement, the two-dimensional Euler–Bernoulli beam theory is adopted. With large displacement, the system behaves as the Duffing oscillator due to geometrical nonlinearity. In addition, some experimental observations of the piezo actuators and fiber optics are reported. The method is applied to evaluate the fatigue properties of nanolayered copper-niobium composites and significant increase in the fatigue endurance limit compared to the constituent materials in the bulk form is noted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-517
Number of pages15
JournalExperimental Mechanics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2006


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