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Eutectic system

Melting point lower than the constituents / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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A eutectic system or eutectic mixture (/jˈtɛktɪk/ yoo-TEK-tik)[1] is a homogeneous mixture that has a melting point lower than those of the constituents.[2] The lowest possible melting point over all of the mixing ratios of the constituents is called the eutectic temperature. On a phase diagram, the eutectic temperature is seen as the eutectic point (see plot on the right).[3]

A phase diagram for a fictitious binary chemical mixture (with the two components denoted by A and B) used to depict the eutectic composition, temperature, and point. (L denotes the liquid state.)

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".[4]

The term eutectic was coined in 1884 by British physicist and chemist Frederick Guthrie (1833–1886). The word originates from the Greek εὐ- ( 'well') and τῆξῐς (têxis 'melting').[2]