Advanced Powder Technology, Vol.31, No.3, 937-946, 2020
Preparation of AlN-Cu composite powders by electroless plating of controlled oxidized nitride particles to prevent degradation by hydrolysis
The present work describes the preparation of AlN-Cu composite powders by electroless plating. Initially, the hydrolysis reaction of the ceramic particles in the electroless solution was studied as a reference element for the design of a protective surface barrier that enabled the coating process, with no ceramic phase degradation. The metal source of the electrolytic bath was copper sulfate, with formaldehyde as the reducing agent, under alkaline conditions of pH 12. The microstructural characterization indicated the formation and growth of aluminum hydroxides from AlN particles, inhibiting the coating of Cu by increasing the OH ions in the solution. As the exposure time increased, the ellipsoidal bayerite grew from AlN and transformed into prismatic particles of the thermodynamically more stable gibbsite phase. To prevent the degradation of AlN, a controlled oxidation stage was implemented to form a protective barrier of non-reactive alumina on the surface through thermal treatment in oxidizing atmospheres. An atmosphere of dry air was found to be more appropriate than pure oxygen for the formation of a continuous and dense layer of crack-free alumina on nitride surfaces, and a temperature of 1000 degrees C for 1 h enabled the formation of 3.9 by weight of alpha-Al2O3, capable of reducing the hydrolysis reaction of AlN. The process of autocatalytic deposition on the passivated particles, applied in three consecutive steps of metallization, led to AlN-Cu composite powders with 29 wt% Cu. Finally, the coated powders were treated in a hydrogen-reducing atmosphere at 400 degrees C to remove traces of the Al(OH)(3) phase encountered, as well as to improve the adhesion of the nanostructured deposit of the cauliflower-like structure to the AlN surfaces, obtaining AlN-Cu composite powders suitable for the preparation of metal/ceramic composites. (C) 2019 The Society of Powder Technology Japan. Published by Elsevier B.V. and The Society of Powder Technology Japan. All rights reserved.