Revealing the Strengthening Mechanism in Si3N4 Ceramic Joint by Atomic Force Microscopy Coupled with Nanoindentation Techniques

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The composite filler has been widely introduced for joining ceramic. However, the underlying formation and strengthening mechanisms in the joint remain uncertain. In this study, a commercial Ag–Cu–Ti brazing alloy with Mo particles reinforcement has been introduced for joining Si3N4 ceramic and the effect of Mo particles on the microstructure and flexural strength of the joint was investigated. Nanoindentation was employed to characterize the mechanical properties for reaction phases in the joints. The modulus and hardness values for Cu–Ti intermetallics and brazing alloy in the joint were first reported, providing a strong evidence to elucidate the strengthening mechanism. In addition, the strength was increased from 200 MPa, with Ag–Cu–Ti alone, to a maximum of 429 MPa while using Ag–Cu–Ti + 5 vol.% Mo composite filler. We are convinced that, for a well-bonded joint, the thermal expansion mismatch between the joined materials and the plastic deformation in the brazing alloy determined the joint strength.