The ASTM E 1820 standard provides procedures and guidelines for the determination of fracture toughness of metallic materials, characterized by the J-integral. The recommended specimens are single-edge bend, SEN(B), compact, C(T), or disk-shaped, DC(T). Two alternative procedures for measuring crack extension are provided in the standard, the basic procedure and the resistance curve procedure. The basic procedure involves physical marking of the crack advance and multiple specimens are used to develop an R-curve (or J-Δa curve). The resistance curve procedure is an elastic-compliance method where multiple points are determined from a single specimen. Other procedures for measuring crack extension are allowed, typically the electric potential drop method.

To use the elastic-compliance method, the displacement transducer (clip-gage) must have a very high resolution and stability, and a very low noise. For temperature ranging from −200°C to 100°C, a clip-gage with conventional strain gages (i.e. plastic resistance strain gages) gives generally good results. However, at higher temperatures, one must use either high temperature inductive or capacitive clip-gages, or conventional clip-gages placed outside of the oven and connected to the specimen by ceramic or quartz rods. In both cases, the results are not very satisfactory. So, for the measurement of the load-line displacement, a new method using the digital image correlation technique (DIC) was developed at EDF R&D. The CT specimens have integral-machined knife edges and a thermally resistant paint is sputtered on these edges, in order to have irregular patterns. During the test, a high resolution camera placed outside of the oven takes pictures of the knife edges at regular time intervals. These pictures are real time processed to calculate the relative displacements of the dots, and deduce the load-line displacement. The paper presents the technique and the results obtained on various materials.

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