Date of Award

Fall 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Materials Engineering

First Advisor

Rodney Trice

Committee Member 1

Farshid Sadeghi

Committee Member 2

David Johnson


Bearing steels are used in rolling elements and are designed to withstand heavy loads for an extended period of time. At the end of life, microstructural alterations within the material have been observed and are linked to failure. In this study, a three ball-on-rod fatigue tester was used to test M50 and 52100 steel cylindrical rods at differing loads of 4.0 GPa, 4.5 GPa, and 5.0 GPa and in lubricated and unlubricated conditions to 10 8 cycles in an attempt to produce microstructural alterations. Microstructural alterations characterized as butterflies were observed and investigated further in two M50 samples that were tested at 4.5 GPa to 10 8 cycles in the lubricated and unlubricated condition. Microstructural alterations characterized as dark etching regions (DER), and white etching bands (WEBs) were not observed. Additionally, hardness was investigated cross sectionally as a function of depth and location within the wear track produced by the fatigue test. No conclusive evidence was derived from the hardness measurements as a function of depth in relation to the formation of microstructural alterations or the stress experienced subsurface within the material. Hardness measurements performed specifically within a butterfly wing, however, returned hardness values significantly higher than the matrix hardness values.