Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Materials Science and Engineering


Materials Science and Engineering

First Advisor

Martin Thuo


Surface roughness, and associated changes in properties, often dictate how a material is utilized or manifests unprecedented capabilities to well-known materials. Most approaches to engineer surface texture are, however, predominantly based on additive and/or subtractive routes that are often either; i) inefficient (arduous, lengthy and expensive), or ii) inaccessible (due to a need for specialized equipment and skilled manpower). Understanding a materials interface structure at the sub-nanometer scale, and pairing this with its thermodynamic landscape, offers a new frugal approach to engineer its surface texture. Herein, we demonstrate thermal-driven evolution of surface morphology by exploiting inherent structural complexity, and metastability, of the ultra-thin passivating oxide on liquid metal particles. We achieve tunable surface texture via thermal-triggered oxidation of the liquid, whereby structural order on the surface was controlled through kinetics (reduction potentials of constituent elements) and stoichiometry, the latter being driven by interfacial phase-segregation upon oxidation. Release of the underlying phase-segregated components lead to inversion in the composition of the surface of these metal oxides, with concomitant growth in the thickness of the passivating layer. We divide our study in two parts viz; i) utilizing a thermodynamically stable core with a metastable shell, and ii) engineering liquid metal particles with metastable core and a metastable interface. For the former case, we obtained particles characterized by crumples, patches and multi-tiered roughness with increase in processing temperature and time. The overall structure of the particle evolves from a smooth sphere into a crumpled sphere and eventually a textured surface with increasing temperature while retaining the liquid core. At temperatures >1173 K, the liquid core is not observed but a hollow solid particle is formed with significant inter-particle sintering. For particles with metastable core and metastable interfaces, we observed greater effects of thermal stress due to phase change. The particles undergo spinodal decomposition upon solidification while differences in thermal expansivities of the constituent elements led to dendritic growth, albeit after a specific trigger temperature.

Copyright Owner

Joel Cutinho



File Format


File Size

59 pages