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This article focuses on characterizing the fracture-surface appearance at the microscale and contains some discussion on both crack nucleation and propagation mechanisms that cause the fracture appearance. It begins with a discussion on microscale models and mechanisms for deformation and fracture. Next, the mechanisms of void nucleation and void coalescence are briefly described. Macroscale and microscale appearances of ductile and brittle fracture are then discussed for various specimen geometries (smooth cylindrical and prismatic) and loading conditions (e.g., tension compression, bending, torsion). Finally, the factors influencing the appearance of a fracture surface and various imperfections or stress raisers are described, followed by a root-cause failure analysis case history to illustrate some of these fractography concepts.

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