Ga alloys have been attracting significant renewed attention for low-temperature bonding applications in electronic packaging. This study systematically investigates the interfacial reaction between liquid Ga and Cu-10Ni substrates at 30 °C. In addition to CuGa2 formed from binary Ga/Cu couples, a layer of nanocrystalline Ga5Ni and CuGa2 formed between the Cu-10Ni substrate and the blocklike micrometer scale CuGa2 layer. The growth of interfacial intermetallics (IMCs) on the Cu-10Ni substrate was substantially accelerated compared to the IMC growth in binary Ga/Cu couples. Reaction kinetics study shows the IMC growth from the Cu-10Ni substrate was controlled by reaction and volume diffusion, while the IMC growth from the Cu substrate was controlled by volume diffusion. It is also found that the presence of Ni within the CuGa2 phase resulted in improved thermal stability and a smaller coefficient of thermal expansion during heating from 25 to 300 °C, using synchrotron XRD analysis. There was least thermal expansion anisotropy among most of the IMCs that form in conventional Sn-based solder alloys, including Cu6Sn5 and so forth. It is concluded that using a Cu-10Ni substrate as opposed to a Cu substrate could achieve sufficient metallurgical bonding within shorter processing time. The results have implications for broadening the application temperatures when using Ga as a low-temperature joining material.
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