Non-eutectic mixture ratios would have different melting temperatures for their different constituents, since one component's lattice will melt at a lower temperature than the other's. Conversely, as a non-eutectic mixture cools down, each of its components would solidify (form a lattice) at a different temperature, until the entire mass is solid.
Not all binary alloys have eutectic points, since the valence electrons of the component species are not always compatible,[clarification needed] in any mixing ratio, to form a new type of joint crystal lattice. For example, in the silver-gold system the melt temperature (liquidus) and freeze temperature (solidus) "meet at the pure element endpoints of the atomic ratio axis while slightly separating in the mixture region of this axis".
The term eutectic was coined in 1884 by British physicist and chemist Frederick Guthrie (1833-1886).
Eutectic phase transition
Four eutectic structures: A) lamellar B) rod-like C) globular D) acicular.
The eutectic solidification is defined as follows:
The resulting solid macrostructure from a eutectic reaction depends on a few factors, with the most important factor being how the two solid solutions nucleate and grow. The most common structure is a lamellar structure, but other possible structures include rodlike, globular, and acicular.
Compositions of eutectic systems that are not at the eutectic composition can be classified as hypoeutectic or hypereutectic. Hypoeutectic compositions are those with a smaller percent composition of species ? and a greater composition of species ? than the eutectic composition (E) while hypereutectic solutions are characterized as those with a higher composition of species ? and a lower composition of species ? than the eutectic composition. As the temperature of a non-eutectic composition is lowered the liquid mixture will precipitate one component of the mixture before the other. In a hypereutectic solution, there will be a proeutectoid phase of species ? whereas a hypoeutectic solution will have a proeutectic ? phase.
Eutectic alloys have two or more materials and have a eutectic composition. When a non-eutectic alloy solidifies, its components solidify at different temperatures, exhibiting a plastic melting range. Conversely, when a well-mixed, eutectic alloy melts, it does so at a single, sharp temperature. The various phase transformations that occur during the solidification of a particular alloy composition can be understood by drawing a vertical line from the liquid phase to the solid phase on the phase diagram for that alloy.
Some uses include:
NEMA Eutectic Alloy Overload Relays for electrical protection of 3-phase motors for pumps, fans, conveyors, and other factory process equipment.
Eutectic alloys for soldering, both traditional alloys composed of lead (Pb) and tin (Sn), sometimes with additional silver (Ag) or gold (Au) -- especially Sn63Pb37 and Sn62Pb36Ag2 alloy formula for electronics - and newer lead-free soldering alloys, in particular ones composed of tin (Sn), silver (Ag), and copper (Cu) such as Sn96.5Ag3.5.
Solid-liquid phase change of ethanol-water mixtures
Sodium chloride and water form a eutectic mixture whose eutectic point is -21.2 °C and 23.3% salt by mass. The eutectic nature of salt and water is exploited when salt is spread on roads to aid snow removal, or mixed with ice to produce low temperatures (for example, in traditional ice cream making).
Ethanol-water has an unusually biased eutectic point, i.e. it is close to pure ethanol, which sets the maximum proof obtainable by fractional freezing.
Menthol and camphor, both solids at room temperature, form a eutectic that is a liquid at room temperature in the following proportions: 8:2, 7:3, 6:4, and 5:5. Both substances are common ingredients in pharmacy extemporaneous preparations.
Some inks are eutectic mixtures, allowing inkjet printers to operate at lower temperatures.
Other critical points
Iron-carbon phase diagram, showing the eutectoid transformation between austenite (?) and pearlite.
When the solution above the transformation point is solid, rather than liquid, an analogous eutectoid transformation can occur. For instance, in the iron-carbon system, the austenite phase can undergo a eutectoid transformation to produce ferrite and cementite, often in lamellar structures such as pearlite and bainite. This eutectoid point occurs at 723 °C (1,333 °F) and about 0.8% carbon.
Peritectic transformations are also similar to eutectic reactions. Here, a liquid and solid phase of fixed proportions react at a fixed temperature to yield a single solid phase. Since the solid product forms at the interface between the two reactants, it can form a diffusion barrier and generally causes such reactions to proceed much more slowly than eutectic or eutectoid transformations. Because of this, when a peritectic composition solidifies it does not show the lamellar structure that is found with eutectic solidification.
Such a transformation exists in the iron-carbon system, as seen near the upper-left corner of the figure. It resembles an inverted eutectic, with the ? phase combining with the liquid to produce pure austenite at 1,495 °C (2,723 °F) and 0.17% carbon.
At the peritectic decomposition temperature the compound, rather than melting, decomposes into another solid compound and a liquid. The proportion of each is determined by the lever rule. In the Al-Au phase diagram, for example, it can be seen that only two of the phases melt congruently, AuAl2 and Au2Al , while the rest peritectically decompose.
The composition and temperature of a eutectic can be calculated from enthalpy and entropy of fusion of each components.
The Gibbs free energy G depends on its own differential:
Thus, the G/T derivative at constant pressure is calculated by the following equation:
The chemical potential is calculated if we assume that the activity is equal to the concentration:
^Guthrie, Frederick (1884) "On eutexia", Philosophical Magazine, 5th series, 17 : 462-482. From p. 462: "The main argument of the present communication hinges upon the existence of compound bodies, whose chief characteristic is the lowness of their temperatures of fusion. This property of the bodies may be called Eutexia +, the bodies possessing it eutectic bodies or eutectics ()."