Passivation-driven speciation, dealloying and purification†
Thin passivating surface oxide layers on metal alloys form a dissipation horizon between dissimilar phases, hence harbour an inherent free energy and composition gradient. We exploit this gradient to drive order and selective surface separation (speciation), enabling redox-driven enrichment of the core by selective conversion of low standard reduction potential (E°) components into oxides. Coupling this oxide growth to volumetric changes during solidification allows us to create oxide crystallites trapped in a metal (‘ship-in-a-bottle’) or extrusion of metal fingerlings on the heavily oxidized particle. We confirm the underlying mechanism through high temperature X-ray diffraction and characterization of solidification-trapped particle states. We demonstrate that engineering the passivating surface oxide can lead to purification via selective dealloying with concomitant enrichment of the core, leading to disparate particle morphologies.