Colloids as model systems for metals and alloys: a case study of crystallization
Institut für Materialphysik im Weltraum, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), 51147 Köln, Germany
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Received: 13 December 2013
Revised: 10 January 2014
Published online: 28 February 2014
Metallic systems are widely used as materials in daily human life. Their properties depend very much on the production route. In order to improve the production process and even develop novel materials a detailed knowledge of all physical processes involved in crystallization is mandatory. Atomic systems like metals are characterized by very high relaxation rates, which make direct investigations of crystallization very difficult and in some cases impossible. In contrast, phase transitions in colloidal systems are very sluggish and colloidal suspensions are optically transparent. Therefore, colloidal systems are often discussed as model systems for metals. In the present work, we study the crystallization process of charged colloidal systems from the very beginning. Charged colloids offer the advantage that the interaction potential can be systematically tuned by a variation of the particle number density and the salt concentration. We apply light scattering and ultra-small angle x-ray scattering to investigate the formation of short-range order in the liquid state even far from equilibrium, crystal nucleation and crystal growth. The results are compared with equivalent studies on metallic systems.
© EDP Sciences, Springer-Verlag, 2014