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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Reactive spreading in ceramic/metal systems


Reactive spreading, in which a chemically active element is added to promote wetting of noble metals on nonmetallic materials, is evaluated mechanistically. Theories for the energetics and kinetics of the steps involved in spreading are outlined to permit comparison to the steps in the compound formation that typically accompanies reactive wetting. These include: fluid flow, active metal adsorption, including nonequilibrium effects, and triple line ridging. They can all be faster than compound nucleation under certain conditions. This analysis plus assessment of recently reported experiments on metal/ceramic systems lead to a focus on those conditions under which spreading proceeds ahead of the actual formation of a new phase at the interface. This scenario may be more typical than commonly believed, and perhaps is the most effective situation leading to enhanced spreading. A rationale for the slow spreading rates plus the pervasive variability and hysteresis observed during high temperature wetting also emerges.

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