Stress-corrosion Fracture in Silver Solid-State Bonds of Uranium
Silver solid-state bonded components containing uranium failed under zero or low applied load several years after manufacture. The final operation in their manufacture was a proof loading that applied a sustained tensile stress to the bond, which all components passed. The components comprised circular cylinders fabricated by plating a thin layer of silver on each of the contact surfaces (uranium and stainless steel) and pressing the parts together at elevated temperature to solid-state bond the two silver surfaces. The manufacturing process produced a high level of residual stress at the bond. The failures appeared to be predominantly located between the silver layer and the uranium substrate. Normal fracture location of specimens taken from similar components was at the silver/silver bond interface. Laboratory testing revealed that the uranium/silver joint was susceptible to premature failure by stress-corrosion cracking under sustained loading if the atmosphere was saturated with water vapor.