Two-step crystal growth mechanism during crystallization of an undercooled Ni50Al50 alloy

SM An and JH Li and Y Li and SN Li and Q Wang and BX Liu, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 6, 31062 (2016).

DOI: 10.1038/srep31062

Crystallization processes are always accompanied by the emergence of multiple intermediate states, of which the structures and transition dynamics are far from clarity, since it is difficult to experimentally observe the microscopic pathway. To insight the structural evolution and the crystallization dynamics, we perform large-scale molecular dynamics simulations to investigate the time-dependent crystallization behavior of the NiAl intermetallic upon rapid solidification. The simulation results reveal that the crystallization process occurs via a two-step growth mechanism, involving the formation of initial non-equilibrium long range order (NLRO) regions and of the subsequent equilibrium long range order (ELRO) regions. The formation of the NLRO regions makes the grains rather inhomogeneous, while the rearrangement of the NLRO regions into the ELRO regions makes the grains more ordered and compact. This two-step growth mechanism is actually controlled by the evolution of the coordination polyhedra, which are characterized predominantly by the transformation from five-fold symmetry to four-fold and six-fold symmetry. From liquids to NLRO and further to ELRO, the five-fold symmetry of these polyhedra gradually fades, and finally vanishes when B2 structure is distributed throughout the grain bulk. The energy decrease along the pathway further implies the reliability of the proposed crystallization processes.

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