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Prof A L Greer

This course covers time-scales from sub-ns in computer memory to giga-years in meteorites.  Thermodynamics determines what cannot happen; kinetics determines what does happen.  Today, study of kinetics is revolutionised by:

(i) nanotechnology, where the usual balance between volume and surface effects is disrupted;

(ii) characterisation methods of unprecedented capability, from synchrotron X-ray imaging to ultra-fast laser and calorimetry techniques.


We build on earlier courses and focus on principles, rather than details, of atomistic mechanisms to understand transformations, relevant in:

(i) production and optimisation of materials

-- from DC casting of multi-tonne aluminium ingots to production of nanotubes;

(ii) stability and reliability of materials and devices

-- from superalloy creep resistance to integrated circuit reliability as Moore’s Law explores new limits;

(iii) device operation

-- glass formation and fast crystallisation exploited in phase-change memory, with potential to transform memory and deliver ‘neuromorphic’ computing.


This lecture course will cover:

  • Atomic and molecular diffusion in crystals: interdiffusion, doping, Kirkendall effects
  • Transport in liquids: diffusivity and viscosity, fragility
  • Glasses: glass transition, fictive temperature, relaxation and rejuvenation
  • Surface transport: sintering, ultrastable glasses, whisker growth
  • Electromigration: electron-wind effects reliability of integrated circuits
  • Interface migration: grain growth
  • Solidification: contributions to supercooling, nucleation and grain refinement
  • Fast growth: solute trapping, disorder trapping, phase-change memory
  • Devitrification: high driving force and many pathways
  • Diffusional control of rates: precipitation. Ostwald ripening, eutectic growth.
  • Ordering transformations: first- and second-order
  • Overall reaction kinetics: the classical Avrami analysis – its strengths and limitations