Orientation dependence of heterogeneous nucleation at the Cu-Pb solid- liquid interface

JP Palafox-Hernandez and BB Laird, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 145, 211914 (2016).

DOI: 10.1063/1.4962424

In this work, we examine the effect of surface structure on the heterogeneous nucleation of Pb crystals from the melt at a Cu substrate using molecular-dynamics (MD) simulation. In a previous work Palafox- Hernandez et al., Acta Mater. 59, 3137 (2011) studying the Cu/Pb solid- liquid interface with MD simulation, we observed that the structure of the Cu(111) and Cu(100) interfaces was significantly different at 625 K, just above the Pb melting temperature (618 K for the model). The Cu(100) interface exhibited significant surface alloying in the crystal plane in contact with the melt. In contrast, no surface alloying was seen at the Cu(111) interface; however, a prefreezing layer of crystalline Pb, 2-3 atomic planes thick and slightly compressed relative to bulk Pb crystal, was observed to form at the interface. We observe that at the Cu(111) interface the prefreezing layer is no longer present at 750 K, but surface alloying in the Cu(100) interface persists. In a series of undercooling MD simulations, heterogeneous nucleation of fcc Pb is observed at the Cu(111) interface within the simulation time (5 ns) at 592 K-a 26 K undercooling. Nucleation and growth at Cu(111) proceeded layerwise with a nearly planar critical nucleus. Quantitative analysis yielded heterogeneous nucleation barriers that are more than two orders of magnitude smaller than the predicted homogeneous nucleation barriers from classical nucleation theory. Nucleation was considerably more difficult on the Cu(100) surface-alloyed substrate. An undercooling of approximately 170 K was necessary to observe nucleation at this interface within the simulation time. From qualitative observation, the critical nucleus showed a contact angle with the Cu(100) surface of over 90 degrees, indicating poor wetting of the Cu(100) surface by the nucleating phase, which according to classical heterogeneous nucleation theory provides an explanation of the large undercooling necessary to nucleate on the Cu(100) surface, relative to Cu(111), whose surface is more similar to the nucleating phase due to the presence of the prefreezing layer. Published by AIP Publishing.

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