Depending on the thermodynamic, structural and diffusion properties of the system, a thin deposit dissolves into a substrate by different mechanisms. In this communication these different behaviours, investigated by surface analytical techniques (AES, XPS, STM, UPS, etc) [ - ], are reviewed. The experiments were also supported by computer simulations. The obtained results are compared and it is summarized how different parameters influence the dissolution of a thin film in a substrate. Furthermore, it is show that i) the volume dissolution kinetics is different on the atomic-/nano-scale than on the microscopic scale due to the diffusion asymmetry ii) the volume and GB diffusion in one measurement can be separated and iii) pure (C-kinetic) GB diffusivities can be determined from thin film kinetics measurements performed under adequate conditions.