2013 Volume 54 Issue 6 Pages 884-889
Sintering of Ag nanoparticles (NPs) is increasingly being used as a driving mechanism for joining in the microelectronics industry. We therefore performed molecular dynamics simulations based on the embedded atom method (EAM) to study pressureless sintering kinetics of two Ag NPs in the size range of (4 to 20 nm), and sintering of three and four Ag NPs of 4 nm diameter. We found that the sintering process passed through three main stages. The first was the neck formation followed by a rapid increase of the neck radius at 50 K for 20 nm particles and at 10 K for smaller NPs. The second was characterized by a gradual linear increase of the neck radius to particle radius ratio as the temperature of the sintered structure was increased to the surface premelting point. Different than previous sintering studies, a twin boundary was formed during the second stage that relaxed the sintered structure and decreased the average potential energy (PE). The third stage of sintering was a rapid shrinkage during surface premelting of the sintered structure. Based on pore geometry, densification occurred during the first stage for three 4 nm particles and during the second stage for four 4 nm particles. Sintering rates obtained by our simulation were higher than those obtained by theoretical models generally used for predicting sintering rates of microparticles.