Phase diagram and structural evolution of tin/indium (Sn/In) nanosolder particles: from a non-equilibrium state to an equilibrium state†
A binary system of tin/indium (Sn/In) in the form of nanoparticles was investigated for phase transitions and structural evolution at different temperatures and compositions. The Sn/In nanosolder particles in the composition range of 24–72 wt% In were synthesized by a surfactant-assisted chemical reduction method under ambient conditions. The morphology and microstructure of the as-synthesized nanoparticles were analyzed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), high resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM), selected area electron diffraction (SAED) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). HRTEM and SAED identified InSn4 and In, with some Sn being detected by XRD, but no In3Sn was observed. The differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) thermographs of the as-synthesized nanoparticles exhibited an endothermic peak at around 116 °C, which is indicative of the metastable eutectic melting of InSn4 and In. When the nanosolders were subjected to heat treatment at 50–225 °C, the equilibrium phase In3Sn appeared while Sn disappeared. The equilibrium state was effectively attained at 225 °C. A Tammann plot of the DSC data of the as-synthesized nanoparticles indicated that the metastable eutectic composition is about 62% In, while that of the DSC data of the 225 °C heat-treated nanoparticles yielded a eutectic composition of 54% In, which confirmed the attainment of the equilibrium state at 225 °C. The phase boundaries estimated from the DSC data of heat-treated Sn/In nanosolder particles matched well with those in the established Sn–In equilibrium phase diagram. The phase transition behavior of Sn/In nanosolders leads to a new understanding of binary alloy particles at the nanoscale, and provides important information for their low temperature soldering processing and applications.