Visualization of ultrafast melting initiated from radiation-driven defects in solids

Mianzhen Mo, Samuel Murphy, Zhijiang Chen, Paul Fossati, Renkai Li, Yongqiang Wang, Xijie Wang, Siegfried Glenzer
2019 Science Advances  
Materials exposed to extreme radiation environments such as fusion reactors or deep spaces accumulate substantial defect populations that alter their properties and subsequently the melting behavior. The quantitative characterization requires visualization with femtosecond temporal resolution on the atomic-scale length through measurements of the pair correlation function. Here, we demonstrate experimentally that electron diffraction at relativistic energies opens a new approach for studies of
more » ... elting kinetics. Our measurements in radiation-damaged tungsten show that the tungsten target subjected to 10 displacements per atom of damage undergoes a melting transition below the melting temperature. Two-temperature molecular dynamics simulations reveal the crucial role of defect clusters, particularly nanovoids, in driving the ultrafast melting process observed on the time scale of less than 10 ps. These results provide new atomic-level insights into the ultrafast melting processes of materials in extreme environments.
doi:10.1126/sciadv.aaw0392 fatcat:2m36wa5curdb3f364l23q2vani