Bernstein, I. M. Department of Metallurgy and Materials Science, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
- Effect of test temperature
- Effect of heat treatment
- Effect of environment
- Other factors
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- Additional Readings
A general set of phenomena whereby materials suffer a marked decrease in their ability to deform (loss of ductility) or in their ability to absorb energy during fracture (loss of toughness), with little change in other mechanical properties, such as strength and hardness. Embrittlement can be induced by a variety of external or internal factors, for example, (1) a decreasing or an increasing temperature; (2) changes in the internal structure of the material, namely, changes in crystallite (grain) size, or in the presence and distribution of alloying elements and second-phase particles; (3) the introduction of an environment which is often, but not necessarily, corrosive in nature; (4) an increasing rate of application of load or extension; and (5) the presence of surface notches. This article is restricted to metals and alloys, and describes embrittlement in terms of the above factors. See also: Brittleness
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