Metal to ceramic joining for high temperature applications
The phenomenal growth rate for the use of engineering ceramics is attributed to successful scientific responses to industrial demand. These materials are replacing metal and its alloys in diverse applications from cutting tools and heat engine components to integrated circuits. Joining technology plays a vital role in this changing and evolving technology as success and failure comes with breaking new barriers. It is important to improve existing techniques and to develop new techniques that reliably join simple shape components to form complex assemblies or join dissimilar materials such as metal to ceramic. Joining of ceramics is not simple due to their high chemical stability and low coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE). Joining between metal and ceramic is usually carried out at elevated temperatures and upon cooling thermal residual stresses are induced that lead to joint failure or poor strength. Most metal-ceramic joints cannot be used over 500°C primarily due to the low melting temperature of the interlayer. This investigation was concerned with the successful joining for higher temperature applications (above 500°C) of two dissimilar high temperature oxidation and corrosion resistant materials, Fecralloy and silicon nitride. The primary focus was on the effects of process conditions upon the microstructure and mechanical properties of the joint and to also study/identify the joining mechanism. Two novel techniques were employed to join successfully the metal to ceramic. The first was by use of a thin Cu foil that did not remain after joining. Joining occurs by a process that results in partial melting of the Fecralloy interface, where Fe, Cr, Al and Cu reactively infiltrate into the silicon nitride. This liquid mixture causes partial dissolution of the silicon nitride interface, where Si and N diffuse into the Fecralloy. A thin reaction product layer was formed at the silicon nitride interface and our results suggested that this was AIN. The free surface Si and porosity of the silicon nitride along with the eutectic temperatures above 1100°C are all vital for this joining process. The highest average shear strength of a Fecralloy-silicon nitride joint produced by the method was 67.5 MPa. The second route was that of a powder metallurgy one, where cold pressed Ni-Al (1:1 molar) compacts were used to join successfully the Fecralloy to silicon nitride. The formation of NiAl from its constituents is highly exothermic and this is initiated between 500-650°C. The high temperature reached causes partial melting of the Fecralloy interface and dissolution/reactive wetting at the silicon nitride interface. Mostly Fe infiltrates the NiAl improving room temperature ductility, fracture toughness and yield strength. Molten Al from the interlayer reacts and wets the silicon nitride interface with small amount of infiltration and no reaction product forming. The reaction synthesis of NiAl was studied using DTA and TGA, where the effects of Ni particle size and heating rate were investigated. This joining process is highly dependant upon process conditions, the most important of which are applied pressure, heating rate and Ni/A1 particle size. The highest average shear strength attained was 94.30 MPa and this is attributed to good interfacial bonding, high pressure, moderate process temperature and dwell time. The exothermic formation of the NiAl interlayer that is densified and monophase was paramount for this joining process. The Bansal-Doremus kinetic model for evaluating the kinetic parameters from non-isothermal DTA data was shown to be valid. The results obtained were identical to those by other authors who used a different model and approach.