Metal-induced embrittlement (MIE) is the embrittlement caused by diffusion of metal, either solid or liquid, into the base material. Metal induced embrittlement occurs when metals are in contact with low-melting point metals while under tensile stress. The embrittler can be either solid (SMIE) or liquid (liquid metal embrittlement). Under sufficient tensile stress, MIE failure occurs instantaneously at temperatures just above melting point. For temperatures below the melting temperature of the embrittler, solid-state diffusion is the main transport mechanism. This occurs in the following ways:
- Diffusion through grain boundaries near the crack of matrix
- Diffusion of first monolayer heterogeneous surface embrittler atoms
- Second monolayer heterogenous surface diffusion of embrittler
- Surface diffusion of the embrittler over a layer of embrittler
The main mechanism of transport for SMIE is surface self-diffusion of the embrittler over a layer of embrittler that’s thick enough to be characterized as self-diffusion at the crack tip. In comparison, LMIE dominant mechanism is bulk liquid flow that penetrates at the tips of cracks.