Date of Award

5-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Materials Science and Engineering

Advisor

Luo, Jian

Committee Member

Skaar , Eric

Committee Member

Kornev , Konstantin

Committee Member

He , Jian

Abstract

This thesis reports a series of fundamental investigations of grain boundary wetting, adsorption and structural (phases) transitions in doped Ni, Cu and Si with technological relevance to liquid metal embrittlement, liquid metal corrosion and device applications. First, intrinsically ductile metals are prone to catastrophic failure when exposed to certain liquid metals, but the atomic level mechanism for this effect is not fully understood. A nickel sample infused with bismuth atoms was characterized and a bilayer interfacial phase that is the underlying cause of embrittlement was observed. In a second related study, we showed that addition of minor impurities can significantly enhance the intergranular penetration of bismuth based liquids in polycrystalline nickel and copper, thereby increasing the liquid metal corrosion rates. Furthermore, we extended a concept that was initially proposed in the Rice-Wang model for grain boundary embrittlement to explain our observations of the impurity-enhanced intergranular penetration of liquid metals. Finally, a grain-boundary transition from a bilayer to an intrinsic is observed in the Si-Au system. This observation directly shows that a grain boundary can exhibit a first-order 'phase' transition, which often implies abrupt changes in properties.

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