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Nanosecond homogeneous nucleation and crystal growth in shock-compressed SiO2

Nature Materials volume 15, pages 6065 (2016) | Download Citation

Abstract

Understanding the kinetics of shock-compressed SiO2 is of great importance for mitigating optical damage for high-intensity lasers and for understanding meteoroid impacts. Experimental work has placed some thermodynamic bounds on the formation of high-pressure phases of this material, but the formation kinetics and underlying microscopic mechanisms are yet to be elucidated. Here, by employing multiscale molecular dynamics studies of shock-compressed fused silica and quartz, we find that silica transforms into a poor glass former that subsequently exhibits ultrafast crystallization within a few nanoseconds. We also find that, as a result of the formation of such an intermediate disordered phase, the transition between silica polymorphs obeys a homogeneous reconstructive nucleation and grain growth model. Moreover, we construct a quantitative model of nucleation and grain growth, and compare its predictions with stishovite grain sizes observed in laser-induced damage and meteoroid impact events.

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Acknowledgements

We thank A. Salleo for helpful comments and discussion. S.B.J. is supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant No. DGE-114747. Y.S. is supported by a William R. Hewlett Stanford Graduate Fellowship.

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Affiliations

  1. Department of Physics, Stanford University, 496 Lomita Mall, Stanford, California 93405, USA

    • Yuan Shen
  2. Department of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, 496 Lomita Mall, Stanford, California 93405, USA

    • Shai B. Jester
  3. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, 496 Lomita Mall, Stanford, California 93405, USA

    • Tingting Qi
    •  & Evan J. Reed

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Contributions

Y.S. implemented the simulation, analysed data and prepared the manuscript. S.B.J. studied modelling of fused silica with contributions from E.J.R. supervising its analysis. T.Q. implemented the simulation and studied the shock Hugoniot. E.J.R. supervised this work and edited the manuscript. All authors discussed the results and implications and commented on the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Evan J. Reed.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat4447

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