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High-precision nucleation rate measurements for higher-melting metals
Nucleation of a crystal in undercooled melts of higher melting face-centered-cubic-metals has often been studied in the past. However, the data available were not of sufficient accuracy and only covered nucleation rates in too small of a range to allow precise conclusions concerning the nature of the underlying process as well as concerning important parameters such as the solid–liquid interface free energy that can in principle be deducted from such analyses. One way to circumvent ambiguities and analyze nucleation kinetics under well-defined conditions experimentally is given by performing statistically significant numbers of repeated single droplet experiments. Application of proper statistics analyses yields nucleation rates that are independent of a specific nucleation model. The first studies that were conducted in accordance with this approach on pure model materials revealed that the approach is valid. The results are comparable to those obtained by classic nucleation theory applied to experimental data, and it was shown that one might need to rethink the common assumption that heterogeneous nucleation is almost always responsible for solidification initiation. The current results also show that often-used models for the solid–liquid interface free energy might lead to overestimated values.