The grain boundary penetration of three types of Ni layer, Ni foil, electroplated Ni, and electroless Ni, by molten Pb and 95Pb5Sn (wt.%) is investigated. The average grain sizes of Ni foil and electroplated Ni are 10 μm and 1 μm, respectively, while the electroless Ni is amorphous. The purpose of using two molten metals is to study the effect of intermetallic formation on grain boundary penetration. Molten Pb was able to penetrate or disintegrate all three types of Ni, including amorphous Ni, which does not contain any grain boundaries. On the other hand, the addition of merely 5 wt.% Sn into molten Pb was able to slow the penetration down substantially for all three types of Ni layer, with the greatest suppression found in electroless Ni where a grain boundary penetration event did not take place. The mechanism for the Sn effect is due to the formation of a protective Ni 3 Sn 4 intermetallic compound at the interface acting as a barrier against grain boundary penetration.
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