Research Articles

Impact-Induced Cleaving and Melting of Alkali-Halide Nanocrystals

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Science  23 Aug 1991:
Vol. 253, Issue 5022, pp. 879-883
DOI: 10.1126/science.253.5022.879


Impact of nanocrystalline alkali-halide clusters against solid surfaces causes them to fission exclusively into low surface-energy fragments. In time-of-flight scattering experiments, this process appears at an impact energy so low that it must result from a single-step cleavage of the nanocrystal along low surface-energy cleavage planes. At higher energies (more than 1 electron volt per atom), a crossover occurs to an entirely different behavior—evaporative cascades that proceed irrespective of the structureenergetic properties of the fragments. These cascades, and the approximately linear scaling of the crossover energy with cluster size, are characteristic of impact-induced transformation of the cluster to a molten state. Collision with the high-rigidity surface of silicon gives a substantially greater cleavage probability than the soft basal-plane surface of graphite.