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Structures Self-Assembled Through Directional SolidificationNanotechnology has created a demand for new fabrication methods with an emphasis on simple, low-cost techniques. Directional solidification of eutectics (DSE) is an unconventional approach in comparison to low-temperature biomimetic approaches. A technical challenge for DSE is producing microstructural architectures on the nanometer scale. In both processes, the driving force is the minimization of Gibb's free energy. Selfassembly by biomimetic approaches depends on weak interaction forces between organic molecules to define the architectural structure. The architectural structure for solidification depends on strong chemical bonding between atoms. Constituents partition into atomic-level arrangements at the liquid-solid interface to form polyphase structures, and this atomic-level arrangement at the liquid-solid interface is controlled by atomic diffusion and total undercooling due to composition (diffusion), kinetics, and curvature of the boundary phases. Judicious selection of the materials system and control of the total undercooling are the keys to producing structures on the nanometer scale. The silicon-titanium silicide (Si-TiSi2) eutectic forms a rod structure under isothermal cooling conditions. At the NASA Glenn Research Center, directional solidification was employed along with a thermal gradient to promote uniform rods oriented with the thermal gradient. The preceding photomicrograph shows the typical transverse microstructure of a solidified Si-TiSi2 eutectic composition. The dark and light gray regions are Si and TiSi2, respectively. Preferred rod orientation along the thermal gradient was poor. The ordered TiSi2 rods have a narrow distribution in diameter of 2 to 3 m, as shown. The rod diameter showed a weak dependence on process conditions. Anisotropic etch behavior between different phases provides the opportunity to fabricate structures with high aspect ratios. The photomicrographs show the resulting microstructure after a wet chemical etch and a dry plasma etch. The wet chemical etches the silicon away, exposing the TiSi2 rods, whereas plasma etching preferentially etches the Si-TiSi2 interface to form a crater. The porous architectures are applicable to fabricating microdevices or creating templates for part fabrication. The porous rod structure can serve as a platform for fabricating microplasma devices for propulsion or microheat exchangers and for fabricating microfilters for miniatured chemical reactors. Although more work is required, self-assembly from DSE can have a role in microdevice fabrication.
Document ID
Document Type
Dynys, Frederick W.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Sayir, Ali
(Case Western Reserve Univ. Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
September 7, 2013
Publication Date
June 1, 2005
Publication Information
Publication: Research and Technology 2004
Subject Category
Composite Materials
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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