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Understanding Homogeneous Nucleation in Solidification of Aluminum by Molecular Dynamics Simulations (OPEN ACCESS)

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Homogeneous nucleation from aluminum (Al) melt was investigated by million-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations utilizing the second nearest neighbor modified embedded atom method (MEAM) potentials. The natural spontaneous homogenous nucleation from the Al melt was produced without any influence of pressure, free surface effects and impurities. Initially isothermal crystal nucleation from undercooled melt was studied at different constant temperatures, and later superheated Al melt was quenched with different cooling rates. The crystal structure of nuclei, critical nucleus size, critical temperature for homogenous nucleation, induction time, and nucleation rate were determined. The quenching simulations clearly revealed three temperature regimes: sub-critical nucleation, super-critical nucleation, and solid-state grain growth regimes. The main crystalline phase was identified as face-centered cubic (fcc), but a hexagonal close-packed (hcp) and an amorphous solid phase were also detected. The hcp phase was created due to the formation of stacking faults during solidification of Al melt. By slowing down the cooling rate, the volume fraction of hcp and amorphous phases decreased. After the box was completely solid, grain growth was simulated and the grain growth exponent was determined for different annealing temperatures.

Avik Mahata, Mohsen Asle Zaeem and Michael I Baskes, Modelling Simul. Mater. Sci. Eng. 26 (2018) 025007 (31pp)

Open Access: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1361-651X/aa9f36

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