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Nanotechnology. 2010 Dec 3;21(48):485603. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/21/48/485603. Epub 2010 Nov 10.

Formation of core-shell and hollow nanospheres through the nanoscale melt-solidification effect in the Sm-Fe(Ta)-N system.

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  • 1Department for Nanostructured Materials, Jozef Stefan Institute, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.


Sm-Fe-Ta-N-O nanospheres were synthesized by pulsed-laser deposition from a Sm(13.8)Fe(82.2)Ta(4.0) target in a nitrogen atmosphere. Three structurally and compositionally distinct types were identified: amorphous, core-shell and hollow nanospheres. Amorphous spheres were compositionally homogeneous and completely oxidized. The core-shell spheres were composed of an iron-rich crystalline core with up to 10 at.% interstitially incorporated nitrogen, surrounded by an amorphous and oxidized shell. The hollow spheres were characterized by voids filled with N(2) gas. It was found that the formation of either amorphous or complex nanospheres is defined by an initial Fe/Sm ratio within the molten droplet. The formation of hollow spheres is believed to be related to the general affinity of liquid metals for gas intake. During rapid solidification the dissolved gas in the melt is trapped within the surrounding solid rim, preventing the outwards diffusion of gas. As long as the amount of gas atoms in the melt is kept below its solubility limits it can be completely interstitially incorporated into the solid, thus forming crystalline Fe(N)-rich cores. If the melt contains more than an equilibrium amount of nitrogen it is possible that the gas recombines to form N(2) molecules, which are condensed inside the spheres.

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