"Ultrafast visualization of crystallization and grain growth in shock-compressed SiO2"

A. E. Gleason: C. A. Bolme, H. J. Lee, B. Nagler, E. Galtier, D. Milathianaki, J. Hawreliak, R. G. Kraus, J. H. Eggert, D. E. Fratanduono, G. W. Collins, R. Sandberg, W. Yang & W. L. Mao ; Nature Communications, 09/04/15.

Additional Authors: C. A. Bolme, H. J. Lee, B. Nagler, E. Galtier, D. Milathianaki, J. Hawreliak, R. G. Kraus, J. H. Eggert, D. E. Fratanduono, G. W. Collins, R. Sandberg, W. Yang & W. L. Mao

Abstract:

Pressure- and temperature-induced phase transitions have been studied for more than a century but very little is known about the non-equilibrium processes by which the atoms rearrange. Shock compression generates a nearly instantaneous propagating high-pressure/temperature condition while in situ X-ray diffraction (XRD) probes the time-dependent atomic arrangement. Here we present in situ pump–probe XRD measurements on shock-compressed fused silica, revealing an amorphous to crystalline high-pressure stishovite phase transition. Using the size broadening of the diffraction peaks, the growth of nanocrystalline stishovite grains is resolved on the nanosecond timescale just after shock compression. At applied pressures above 18GPa the nuclueation of stishovite appears to be kinetically limited to 1.4±0.4ns. The functional form of this grain growth suggests homogeneous nucleation and attachment as the growth mechanism. These are the first observations of crystalline grain growth in the shock front between low- and high-pressure states via XRD.