1 Equilibrium Thermodynamic Degradation Science

1.1 Introduction to a New Science

Thermodynamic degradation science is a new and exciting discipline. Reviewing the literature, one might note that thermodynamics is underutilized for this area. You may wonder why we need another approach. The answer is: in many cases you do not. However, the depth and pace of understanding physics of failure phenomenon, and the simplified methods it offers for such problems, is greatly improved because thermodynamics offers an energy approach. Further, systems are sometimes complex and made up of many components. How do we describe the aging of a complex system? Here is another possibility where thermodynamics, an energy approach, can be invaluable. We will also see that assessing thermodynamic degradation can be very helpful in quantifying the life of different devices, their aging laws, understanding of their failure mechanisms and help in reliability accelerated test planning [1–4]. One can envision that degradation is associated with some sort of device damage that has occurred. In terms of thermodynamics, degradation is about order versus disorder in the system of interest. Therefore, often we will use the term thermodynamic damage which is associated with disorder and degradation. One clear advantage to this method is that:

thermodynamics is an energy approach, often making it easier to track damage due to disorder and the physics of failure of aging processes.

More importantly, ...

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