Mechanisms of microstructure development at metallic-interlayer/ceramic
interfaces during liquid-film-assisted bonding
Alumina has been bonded via copper/niobium/copper interlayers, and correlations have been made between various processing conditions (applied load, processing temperature, copper film thickness, surface roughness, etc.) and strength. Four-point bend strengths and micrographs of fracture surfaces have been used to determine the relationship between processing, microstructure, and properties. Transparent sapphire substrates bonded with copper/niobium/copper interlayers were used in model experiments to track the microstructural development of these ceramic/metalinterfaces and to identify the important mechanisms that contribute. High interfacial strengths were generally associated with small unbonded regions, extensive breakup of the copper film into isolated particles, ceramic pullout, and regions of niobium/alumina contact where the grain boundary grooves of the alumina are visible on both sides of the fracture surface. Experiments with sapphire substrates showed that asperities in the niobium and grain boundary grooves in the niobium play an important role in the initiation and growth of sapphire/niobium contact. The presence of a liquid film can enhance the kinetics of sapphire/niobium contact and growth by providing a low-temperature high-diffusivity path. The breakup of the copper film was described using two models that were in fairly close agreement. The breakup of the copper film depended on the asperity density in the niobium, niobium grain boundary density, liquid film redistribution, and the breakup of liquid patches via Rayleigh instabilities. The redistribution of the liquid was affected by defect geometry, local film thickness, and local interfacial crystallography. Thermal grooving effects of liquid copper on alumina and niobium were studied using conventional sessile drop experiments. The thermal grooving of one particular grain boundary in alumina when in contact with copper and niobium was studied using a fabricated bicrystal. Both diffusion mechanisms and the dissolution-precipitation reaction of alumina in niobium limited the kinetics of thermal grooving.