Ordered Liquid Aluminum at the Interface with Sapphire

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Science  28 Oct 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5748, pp. 661-663
DOI: 10.1126/science.1118611

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Understanding the nature of solid-liquid interfaces is important for many processes of technological interest, such as solidification, liquid-phase epitaxial growth, wetting, liquid-phase joining, crystal growth, and lubrication. Recent studies have reported on indirect evidence of density fluctuations at solid-liquid interfaces on the basis of x-ray scattering methods that have been complemented by atomistic simulations. We provide evidence for ordering of liquid atoms adjacent to an interface with a crystal, based on real-time high-temperature observations of alumina-aluminum solid-liquid interfaces at the atomic-length scale. In addition, crystal growth of alumina into liquid aluminum, facilitated by interfacial transport of oxygen from the microscope column, was observed in situ with the use of high-resolution transmission electron microscopy.

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