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Phys Rev Lett. 2003 May 16;90(19):195504. Epub 2003 May 15.

First x-ray scattering studies on electrostatically levitated metallic liquids: demonstrated influence of local icosahedral order on the nucleation barrier.

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Department of Physics, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri 63130, USA.


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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