Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Materials Science and Engineering

First Advisor's Name

W. Kinzy Jones

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Arvind Agarwal

Third Advisor's Name

Kuang-Hsi Wu

Fourth Advisor's Name

Norman D. H. Munroe

Fifth Advisor's Name

Anthony McGoron


Vacuum Brazing, ceramic to metal hermetic joint, sputtering, wetting, nanoindentation, nanoscratch testing

Date of Defense



One of the many promising applications of metal/ceramic joining is in biomedical implantable devices. This work is focused on vacuum brazing of C.P titanium to 96% alumina ceramic using pure gold as the filler metal. A novel method of brazing is developed where resistance heating of C.P titanium is done inside a thermal evaporator using a Ta heating electrode. The design of electrode is optimized using Ansys resistive heating simulations. The materials chosen in this study are biocompatible and have prior history in implantable devices approved by FDA. This research is part of Boston Retinal implant project to make a biocompatible implantable device (

Pure gold braze has been used in the construction of single terminal feedthrough in low density hermetic packages utilizing a single platinum pin brazed to an alumina or sapphire ceramic donut ( brazed to a titanium case or ferrule for many years in implantable pacemakers. Pure gold (99.99%) brazing of 96% alumina ceramic with CP titanium has been performed and evaluated in this dissertation. Brazing has been done by using electrical resistance heating. The 96% alumina ceramic disk was manufactured by high temperature cofired ceramic (HTCC) processing while the Ti ferrule and gold performs were purchased from outside. Hermetic joints having leak rate of the order of 1.6 X 10-8 atm-cc/ sec on a helium leak detector were measured.

Alumina ceramics made by HTCC processing were centreless grounded utilizing 800 grit diamond wheel to provide a smooth surface for sputtering of a thin film of Nb. Since pure alumina demonstrates no adhesion or wetting to gold, an adhesion layer must be used on the alumina surface. Niobium (Nb), Tantalum (Ta) and Tungsten (W) were chosen for evaluation since all are refractory (less dissolution into molten gold), all form stable oxides (necessary for adhesion to alumina) and all are readily thin film deposited as metals. Wetting studies are also performed to determine the wetting angle of pure gold to Ti, Ta, Nb and W substrates. Nano tribological scratch testing of thin film of Nb (which demonstrated the best wetting properties towards gold) on polished 96% alumina ceramic is performed to determine the adhesion strength of thin film to the substrate. The wetting studies also determined the thickness of the intermetallic compounds layers formed between Ti and gold, reaction microstructure and the dissolution of the metal into the molten gold.





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