Crystal Growth - Morphology - Diffusion-control


Very commonly when the supersaturation (or degree of supercooling) is high, and sometimes even when it is not high, growth kinetics may be diffusion-controlled. Under such conditions, the polyhedral crystal form will be unstable, it will sprout protrusions at its corners and edges where the degree of supersaturation is at its highest level. The tips of these protrusions will clearly be the points of highest supersaturation. It is generally believed that the protrusion will become longer (and thinner at the tip) until the effect of interfacial free energy in raising the chemical potential slows the tip growth and maintains a constant value for the tip thickness.

In the subsequent tip-thickening process, there should be a corresponding instability of shape. Minor bumps or "bulges" should be exaggerated — and develop into rapidly growing side branches. In such an unstable (or metastable) situation, minor degrees of anisotropy should be sufficient to determine directions of significant branching and growth. The most appealing aspect of this argument, of course, is that it yields the primary morphological features of dendritic growth.

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