Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Alan I. Goldman

Second Advisor

Andreas Kreyssig


A new laboratory has been developed at Iowa State University (ISU) to be used for the study of high temperature liquids and solids, with particular focus on the supercooling of liquids and their metastable solidification products. This new laboratory employs the electrostatic levitation (ESL) technique, in which a charged sample is suspended between a set of electrodes to achieve non-contact handling. Owing to the elimination of a crucible, high temperature processing of samples can be achieved with reduced levels of contamination and heterogeneous nucleation. Because of the reduction in heterogeneous nucleation, samples can be supercooled well below their equilibrium melting temperature, opening the door to a wide range of measurements on supercooled liquids. Measurements methods have been implemented for the characterization of thermophysical properties such as: volume/density, ratio of specific heat to total hemispherical emissivity, surface tension, viscosity, electrical resistivity, and magnetic susceptibility. For measurements of electrical resistivity and magnetic susceptibility, a new method has been developed at ISU based on the tunnel diode oscillator (TDO) technique. The TDO technique uses the negative differential resistance of a tunnel diode to drive an LC tank circuit into self-sustained oscillation at the resonant LC frequency. The LC tank is inductively coupled to the samples under study, and changes in the electrical resistivity or magnetic susceptibility of the sample are manifested as changes in the resonant frequency. By measuring the frequency shifts of the TDO, insights can be made into changes in the material's electrical and magnetic properties. This method has been validated by performing resistivity measurements on a sample of high purity Zr, and by performing measurements on the ferromagnetic transition in a low-carbon steel ball bearing. In addition to the development of the laboratory and its supporting instrumentation, an effort has been carried out to study the metastable phase formation in an Fe83B17 near eutectic alloy. Initial supercooling measurements using the ISU-ESL identified the formation of three metastable phases: a precipitate phase that shows stable coexistence with the deeply supercooled liquid, and two distinct bulk solidification phases. To identify the structure of the metastable phases, the Washington University Beamline ESL (WU-BESL) has been used to perform in-situ high energy x-ray diffraction measurements of the metastable phases. Based on the x-ray results, the precipitate phase has been identified as bcc-Fe, and the more commonly occurring bulk solidification product has been found to be a two-phase mixture of Fe23B6 plus fcc-Fe, which appears, upon cooling, to transform into a three phase mixture of Fe23B6, bcc-Fe, and an as-yet unidentified phase, with the transformation occurring at approximately the expected fcc-to-bcc transformation temperature of pure Fe. To further characterize the multi-phase metastable alloy, the ISU-ESL has been used to perform measurements of volume thermal expansion via the videographic technique, as well as RF susceptibility via the TDO technique. The results of the thermal expansion and susceptibility data have been found to be sensitive indicators of additional structural changes that may be occurring in the metastable solid at temperatures below 1000 K, and the susceptibility data has revealed that three distinct ferromagnetic phase transitions take place within the multi-phase mixture. Based on these results, it has been hypothesized that there may be an additional transformation taking place that leads to the formation of either bct- or o-Fe3B in addition to the Fe23B6 phase, although further work is required to test this hypothesis.

Copyright Owner

Gustav Errol Rustan



File Format


File Size

287 pages