The paper presents the experimental and theoretical investigation on the thermal fatigue failure induced by delamination in thermal barrier coating system. Laser heating method was used to simulate the operating state of TBC (thermal barrier coating) system. The non-destructive evaluation such as acoustic emission (AE) detect was used to study the evolution of TBC system damage. Micro-observation and AE detect both revealed that fatigue crack was in two forms: surface crack and interface delamination. It was found that interface delamination took place in the period of cooling or heating. Heating or cooling rate and temperature gradient had an important effect on interface delamination cracking propagation. A theoretical model on interface delamination cracking in TBC system at operating state is proposed. In the model, a membrane stress P and a bending moment M are designated the thermal loads of the thermal stress and temperature gradient in TBC system. In this case, the coupled effect of plastic deformation, creep of ceramic coating as well as thermal growth oxidation (TGO) and temperature gradient in TBC system was considered in the model. The thermal stress intensity factors (TSIFs) in non-FGM (functional gradient material) thermal barrier coating system is analytical obtained. The numerical results of TSIFs reveal some same results as obtained in experimental test. The model is based on fracture mechanics theory about heterogeneous materials and it gives a rigorous explanation of delaminations in TBC system loaded by thermal fatigue. Both theoretical analysis and experimental observation reveal an important fact: delaminations are fatigue cracks which grow during thermal shocks due to compressive stresses in the loading, this loads the delaminations cracks in mixed I and II mode.
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