Volume 79, Number 2, July 2007
Article Number 26005
Number of page(s) 6
Section Condensed Matter: Structural, Mechanical and Thermal Properties
Published online 05 July 2007
EPL, 79 (2007) 26005
DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/79/26005

Atomic mechanisms controlling crystallization behaviour in metals at deep undercoolings

Y. Ashkenazy1 and R. S. Averback2

1  Racah Institute of Physics, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, E.J. Safra Campus - Jerusalem 91904, Israel
2  Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Urbana, IL 61801, USA

received 19 February 2007; accepted in final form 5 June 2007; published July 2007
published online 5 July 2007

Understanding the liquid-solid phase transition has long been of scientific interest, owing to its singular importance in the processing of materials with desired microstructures. Presently, however, little is known about the atomic mechanisms controlling this process. Using molecular dynamics simulations, we find a surprising connection between the crystallization behavior of metals at extreme undercoolings and the properties of interstitial atoms in the crystalline phase. We show first that the activation energy of crystallization in a number of metals at the kinetically controlled regime is precisely the same as the migration energy of self-interstitials atom in the crystalline state. We then show, contrary to the present thought, that the advance of a planar solid-liquid interface in Fe at low temperatures is controlled by thermally activated jumps of a small fraction of the atoms on the liquid side of the interface, and remarkably these atoms have the same $\langle 110\rangle $ dumbbell interstitialcy structure as observed for interstitials in crystalline Fe.

64.70.Dv - Solid-liquid transitions.
68.08.-p - Liquid-solid interfaces.
81.10.-h - Methods of crystal growth; physics of crystal growth.

© Europhysics Letters Association 2007