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Impurity levels and fatigue lives of pseudoelastic NiTi shape memory alloys
In the present work we show how different oxygen (O) and carbon (C) levels affect fatigue lives of pseudoelastic NiTi shape memory alloys. We compare three alloys, one with an ultrahigh purity and two which contain the maximum accepted levels of C and O. We use bending rotation fatigue (up to cycle numbers >10) and scanning electron microscopy (for investigating microstructural details of crack initiation and growth) to study fatigue behavior. High cycle fatigue (HCF) life is governed by the number of cycles required for crack initiation. In the low cycle fatigue (LCF) regime, the high-purity alloy outperforms the materials with higher number densities of carbides and oxides. In the HCF regime, on the other hand, the high-purity and C-containing alloys show higher fatigue lives than the alloy with oxide particles. There is high experimental scatter in the HCF regime where fatigue cracks preferentially nucleate at particle/void assemblies (PVAs) which form during processing. Cyclic crack growth follows the Paris law and does not depend on impurity levels. The results presented in the present work contribute to a better understanding of structural fatigue of pseudoelastic NiTi shape memory alloys.