Reactive spreading: Adsorption, ridging and compound formation
Reactive spreading, in which a chemically active element is added to promote wetting of noble metals on nonmetallic materials, is evaluated. Theories for the energetics and kinetics of the necessary steps involved in spreading are outlined and compared to the steps in compound formation that typically accompany reactive wetting. These include: fluid flow, active metal adsorption, including nonequilibrium effects, and triple line ridging. All of these can be faster than compound nucleation under certain conditions. Analysis and 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 believed, and perhaps the most effective situation leading to enhanced spreading. A rationale for the pervasive variability and hysteresis observed during high temperature wetting also emerges.