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Observation of the Role of Subcritical Nuclei in Crystallization of a Glassy Solid

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Science  13 Nov 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5955, pp. 980-984
DOI: 10.1126/science.1177483

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Catching Glassy Crystallization

The initial steps for crystallization are difficult to study in atomic materials because they occur on very small length- and time scales. Measurements can be made on surfaces, or by using colloids as analogs, but ideally one would like to observe the ordering phenomena in atomic solids in bulk. Lee et al. (p. 980; see the Perspective by Gibson) use fluctuation transmission electron microscopy to explore the role of nucleation in propagating crystallization and discovered that formation of subcritical nuclei strongly influences the crystallization process.

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