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Issue 42, 2008
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Structural studies of melting on the picosecond time scale

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Ultrafast structural studies of laser-induced melting have demonstrated that the solid–liquid phase transition can take place on a picosecond time scale in a variety of materials. Experimental studies using ångström wavelength X-rays from the sub-picosecond pulse source at Stanford (now retired) on non-thermal melting of semi-conductors, such as indium antimonide, employed the decay of a single Bragg-peak to measure the time component of the phase transition. These materials were found to start melting within one picosecond after the laser pulse. Recent computer simulations have described the thermal melting of ice induced by an infrared laser pulse. Here it was shown that melting can happen within a few picoseconds, somewhat slower than non-thermal melting in semi-conductors. These computer simulations are compatible with spectroscopy experiments on ice-melting, demonstrating that simulations form a very powerful complement to experiments targeting the process of phase-transitions. Here we present an overview of recent experimental and theoretical studies of melting, as well as new simulations of ice-melting where the effect of the size of the crystal on scattering is studied. Based on simulations of a near-macroscopic crystal, we predict the decay of the most intense Bragg peaks of ice following heating by laser pulse, by modeling the scattering from the melting sample in the simulations.

Graphical abstract: Structural studies of melting on the picosecond time scale

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Publication details

The article was received on 02 May 2008, accepted on 16 Jul 2008 and first published on 23 Sep 2008

Article type: Perspective
DOI: 10.1039/B807550F
Citation: Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2008,10, 6344-6349
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    Structural studies of melting on the picosecond time scale

    D. V. D. Spoel, F. R. N. C. Maia and C. Caleman, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2008, 10, 6344
    DOI: 10.1039/B807550F

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