First X-Ray Scattering Studies on Electrostatically Levitated Metallic Liquids: Demonstrated Influence of Local Icosahedral Order on the Nucleation Barrier

Phys. Rev. Lett. 90, 195504 – Published 15 May 2003
K. F. Kelton, G. W. Lee, A. K. Gangopadhyay, R. W. Hyers, T. J. Rathz, J. R. Rogers, M. B. Robinson, and D. S. Robinson


To explain the unusual stability of undercooled liquids against crystallization, Frank hypothesized that the local structures of undercooled liquids contain a significant degree of icosahedral short-range order, which is incompatible with long-range periodicity. We present here the first direct experimental demonstration of Frank’s complete hypothesis, showing a correlation between the nucleation barrier and a growing icosahedral short-range order with decreasing temperature in a Ti39.5Zr39.5Ni21 liquid. A new experimental facility, BESL (Beamline Electrostatic Levitation), was developed to enable the synchrotron x-ray structural studies on deeply undercooled, reactive liquids.


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  • Received 23 December 2002
  • Published 15 May 2003

© 2003 The American Physical Society

Authors & Affiliations

K. F. Kelton1, G. W. Lee1, A. K. Gangopadhyay1, R. W. Hyers2, T. J. Rathz3, J. R. Rogers3, M. B. Robinson3, and D. S. Robinson4

  • 1Department of Physics, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri 63130, USA
  • 2University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003, USA
  • 3NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama 35812, USA
  • 4Ames Laboratory, U.S. DOE, Ames, Iowa 50011, USA

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