A Side-By-Side Comparison of the Solidification Dynamics of Quasicrystalline and Approximant Phases in the Al-Co-Ni System

Ashwin Shahani

Assistant Professor


2034 H.H. Dow

T: (734) 764-5648



I Han, XH Xiao, HP Sun, and AJ Shahani (2019)


Quasicrystals and their approximants have triggered widespread interest due to the challenge of solving their complex crystal structures as well as their possibly exceptional properties. The structural motifs of approximants are similar to those of the corresponding quasicrystals, but to what extent are their crystallization pathways the same? Unfortunately, there have been very few in situ experimental investigations to answer this question. Here, by leveraging the high penetrating power of hard X-rays, synchrotron-based X-ray tomography was conducted in order to capture the nucleation and growth of a decagonal quasicrystal and its related approximant. The combination of data-driven computational analysis with new thermodynamic databases allowed the characterization, with high precision, of the constitutional and kinetic driving forces for crystallization. The experimental results prove that the growth of both crystals from a liquid is dominated by first-order kinetics. Nevertheless, and somewhat surprisingly, significant differences were observed in their rates of nucleation and growth. The reasons for such divergent behaviours are discussed in light of contemporary theories of intermetallic crystallization.

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