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Johnson Matthey Technol. Rev., 2014, 58, (3), 124

doi:10.1595/147106714x682355

Thermophysical Properties of Platinum Group Metals in their Liquid Undercooled and Superheated Phases

Measurements in the liquid state, including the undercooled region, over wide temperature ranges with an electrostatic levitator

  • Paul-François Paradis *
  • Institut National d’Optique (INO), Remote Sensing Group,
  • 2740 Einstein, Québec, Québec, G1P 4S4, Canada
  • *Email: paul-francois.paradis@ino.ca
  • Takehiko Ishikawa and Junpei T. Okada
  • Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Tsukuba Space Center,
  • 2-1-1 Sengen, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-8505, Japan
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Article Synopsis

This review briefly describes the vacuum electrostatic levitation furnace developed by JAXA and the associated non-contact techniques used to measure the density, the surface tension and the viscosity of materials. The paper then presents a summary of the data taken with this facility in the equilibrium liquid and non-equilibrium liquid phases for the six platinum group metals (pgms): platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium, ruthenium and osmium over wide temperature ranges that include undercooled and superheated phases. The presented data (density, surface tension and viscosity of Pt, Rh, Ir, Ru and Os and density of Pd) are compared with literature values.

1. Introduction

Due to their unique characteristics such as inertness, corrosion and oxidation-resistance, biocompatibility, catalytic behaviour, high melting temperatures and good conductivity, the pgms are used in a host of applications (for example, automotive, aerospace, electronics, industrial heating, medical and jewellery) (1). To design high-performance alloys and to optimise industrial processes (for example, refining, casting and welding), knowledge of the density, surface tension and viscosity and their temperature dependences is often required. This understanding is required not only for the equilibrium liquid phase but also for the non-equilibrium, undercooled phases, because alloys with new microscopic structures can be synthesised from such phases. However, the high melting temperature of pgms (Pd: 1828 K; Pt: 2041 K; Rh: 2236 K; Ru: 2607 K; Ir: 2720 K; Os: 3306 K) (1) and the risk of contamination at elevated temperatures make measurements of their thermophysical properties of their equilibrium and non-equilibrium liquid phases very challenging using traditional methods.

The electrostatic levitation furnace and the associated non-contact diagnostics techniques developed by JAXA over the years (2, 3) have circumvented the difficulties associated with high-temperature processing and allowed an accurate determination of several properties of the pgms (413). High-temperature processing was achieved in vacuum using laser heating, thus isolating the sample from contaminating walls as well as surrounding gases. The containerless processing conditions also permit a deep undercooling of the material samples because of minimised heterogeneous nucleation and because sample heating and levitation were independent.

This paper first briefly describes the facility and the property measurement methods and then summarises the experimental data for the density, surface tension and viscosity for the liquid phase of the pgms.

2. Experimental

2.1 Electrostatic Levitator

Properties were measured using an improved electrostatic levitator (Figure 1) (2, 3) in a vacuum environment (~10–5 Pa) originally based on a design by Rhim et al. (14). With this instrument, ca. 2 mm diameter samples charged by electronic emission were levitated one at a time between electrodes. A feedback loop between the applied electric fields and the position information obtained from the shadow of the sample illuminated with helium-neon lasers and detected by sensors ensured stable levitation. The sample was heated with up to four focused laser beams: three carbon dioxide laser beams (10.6 μm, total power 200 W) separated by 120º in a horizontal plane and one neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet (Nd:YAG) laser beam (1.064 μm, 500 W) from the top. A complete description of the facility and the levitation initiation procedures can be found elsewhere (2, 3, 10, 12). This configuration provided temperature homogeneity and sample position stability and allowed control of sample rotation. The radiance temperature was measured with a single-colour pyrometer (0.90 μm, 120 Hz acquisition rate). The sample was observed by black and white high-resolution charged-coupled-device cameras. The cameras were located at right angles from each other and were equipped with telephoto lenses in conjunction with background illumination lamps. This provided magnified views of the sample and helped to monitor the sample position and to align the heating laser beams.

Fig. 1.

Schematic view of the electrostatic levitation furnace

Schematic view of the electrostatic levitation furnace

2.2 Property Measurements

This levitation furnace was particularly suitable to measure the density, surface tension and viscosity of pgms in their equilibrium and undercooled liquid phases. Since sample heating and levitation were independent, a precise laser heating control allowed undercooled melts to be maintained for time scales much longer than those required for the measurements.

2.2.1 Density

Density measurements were carried out using an imaging technique described elsewhere (3, 15). Once a levitated sample was melted, it took a spherical shape due to surface tension and the distribution of surface charge and images from a high-resolution camera (30 frames per second) and temperature data were simultaneously recorded with time (Figure 2). The laser beams were then blocked with mechanical shutters allowing the sample to cool radiatively. After the experiment, each image was matched with the thermal history of the sample (Figure 3), digitised and the sample radius was extracted by software. Since the sample was axi-symmetric and because its mass was known, the density was found as a function of temperature. Calibration was done by levitating a sphere with a precisely known radius under identical experimental conditions.

Fig. 2.

Representative image of a levitated molten Os sample (~2 mm diameter)

Representative image of a levitated molten Os sample (~2 mm diameter)

Fig. 3.

Representative thermal history obtained for millimetre size pgm samples showing heating above the melting temperature, radiative cooling, undercooling, recalescence and solidification: (a) Pd (6); (b) Pt (11); (c) Rh (4); (d) Ru (5); (e) Ir (8); and (f) Os (10). (Tm = melting temperature)

Representative thermal history obtained for millimetre size pgm samples showing heating above the melting temperature, radiative cooling, undercooling, recalescence and solidification: (a) Pd (6); (b) Pt (11); (c) Rh (4); (d) Ru (5); (e) Ir (8); and (f) Os (10). (Tm = melting temperature)

2.2.2 Surface Tension and Viscosity

The surface tension was determined by the oscillation drop technique, a method in which the frequency of the oscillation of a levitated molten sample about its equilibrium shape is measured (16). This technique was explained earlier (17) and is summarised below for completeness. In this method, a sample was first heated, melted and brought to a selected temperature, while ensuring excellent position stability, low sample rotation and sample sphericity. Then, a P2 cos(θ)-mode drop oscillation was induced to the sample by superimposing a small sinusoidal electric field on the levitation field. Following the termination of the excitation field, the transient signal generated by the change in diameter of the oscillating drop was detected and analysed using a custom made program. This was done many times for a given temperature and repeated for numerous temperatures. Using the characteristic oscillation frequency ωc of this signal, which was calculated by a fast Fourier transform and then corrected for nonuniform surface charge distribution (18), the surface tension σ could be found from Equation (i) (17, 19):

ωc2 = (8σ/ro3ρ) [1 – (Q2/64π2ro3σεo)][1 – F(σ,q,e)] (i)

where

F(σ,q,e) = [243.31σ2 – 63.14q2σ + 1.54q4]e2 / [176σ3 – 120q2σ2 + 27σq4 – 2q6] (ii)

and ro is the radius of the sample when it assumed a spherical shape, ρ is the liquid density, Q is the drop charge, εo is the permittivity of vacuum and q and e are respectively defined by Equations (iii) and (iv):

q2 = Q2/16 π2ro3εo (iii)

and

e2 = E2ro εo (iv)

with E being the applied electric field (levitation and excitation). Similarly (17, 20), using the decay time τ given by the same signal, the viscosity η was found by Equation (v):

η = ρro2/(5τ) (v)

In Equations (i) and (v), the value of the density ρ at the corresponding temperature and the real-time value of the radius ro, obtained by the imaging technique, were used so that sample evaporation does not distort the surface tension and the viscosity data.

3. Experimental Results

3.1 Density

All pgm samples were successfully levitated, melted, undercooled and solidified with the electrostatic levitator (48, 10, 11) and the processing data specific for each metal are listed in Table I. During these experiments, the density of equilibrium and non-equilibrium liquid phases was measured over large temperature ranges that cover the superheated and undercooled regions. Figure 4 presents typical plots for all pgms. The data measured by electrostatic levitation (46, 8, 10, 11) together with the literature values (2136) are summarised in Table II. To our knowledge, these levitation measurements are the only ones that explore the undercooled region to date. The density of the pgms, like that of other pure metals, exhibited a linear behaviour as a function of temperature. In the density measurements, the uncertainty was estimated to be less than 2% from the resolution of the video grabbing capability (640 × 480 pixels) and from the uncertainty in mass (±0.0001 g).

Table I

Processing Data for Platinum Group Metals (46, 8, 10, 11)

MetalMelting temperature, KPurity, wt%Undercooling, KSuperheating, K
Pd 1828 99.95 188 47
Pt 2041 99.8 340 170
Rh 2236 99.9 416 14
Ru 2607 99.9 382 168
Ir 2720 99.9 420 280
Os 3306 99.9 575 35

Fig. 4.

Representative density data of equilibrium and non-equilibrium liquid pgms measured with an electrostatic levitator and compared with literature values as a function of temperature: (a) Pd (6, 2125); (b) Pt (11, 22, 26, 27); (c) Rh (4, 23, 2831); (d) Ru (5, 23, 32); (e) Ir (8, 23, 3335); and (f) Os (10, 23, 36)

Representative density data of equilibrium and non-equilibrium liquid pgms measured with an electrostatic levitator and compared with literature values as a function of temperature: (a) Pd (6, 21–25); (b) Pt (11, 22, 26, 27); (c) Rh (4, 23, 28–31); (d) Ru (5, 23, 32); (e) Ir (8, 23, 33–35); and (f) Os (10, 23, 36)

Table II

Summary of the Density Data for Platinum Group Metals Measured by Electrostatic Levitation (48, 10, 11) Compared with Literature Values (2136)

Density, ρ
MetalTm, Kρ(Tm), 103 kg m–3dρ/dT, kg m–3 K–1)Temperature range, KReference
Pd 1828 10.66 –0.77 1640–1875 Electrostatic levitation (6)
10.49 –1.226 1828–2073 Lucas (21)
10.70 1828 Eremenko in (22)
10.70 1828 Allen (23)
10.379 –1.169 1828–1973 Vatolin et al. (24)
10.52 1828 Martsenyuk et al. (25)
Pt 2041 19.2 –0.96 1691–2216 Electrostatic levitation (11)
19.7 2041 Eremenko in (22)
18.82 2073 Kozakevitch in (22)
18.91 –2.882 2041–2148 Been in (22)
18.81 Martsenyuk in (22)
19.77 –2.4 2041–2473 Dubinin in (22)
19.3 –1.7 2041–5100 Hixson et al. (26)
19.1 –1.3 2095–4500 Gathers et al. (27)
Rh 2237 10.82 –0.76 1820–2250 Electrostatic levitation (4)
11.1 2236 Allen (23)
10.65 2236 Eremenko et al. (28)
10.7 –0.90 2236–2473 Mitko et al. (29)
10.7 2236 Popel et al. (30)
12.2 –0.50 2236–2473 Dubinin et al. (31)
Ru 2607 10.75 –0.56 2225–2775 Electrostatic levitation (5)
10.9 2607 Allen (23)
10.3 2607 Martsenyuk et al. (32)
Ir 2719 19.87 –0.71 2300–3000 Electrostatic levitation (7)
19.5 –0.85 2300–3000 Electrostatic levitation (8)
20.0 2719 Allen (23)
19.39 2719 Martsenyuk et al. (33)
19.23 2723 Apollova et al. (34)
20.0 2719 Gathers et al. (35)
Os 3306 19.10 –1.16 2670–3380 Electrostatic levitation (10)
20.10 3306 Allen (23)
19.2 3306 Vinet et al. (36)

At the melting point, the values obtained by levitation agree generally very well with those measured by other techniques (for example, the drop weight technique, isobaric expansion, pendant drop and sessile drop) when respective experimental uncertainties are taken into account (Table II) (2136). The discrepancies observed in the temperature coefficients could be attributed to the difference in processing techniques and the extent to which evaporation losses have been considered. The containerless approach presented in this report operates under high vacuum, isolating the reactive molten samples from container walls and gases and can process samples in such a short time (<3 s for Pt and Rh; <2 s for Pd, Ru and Ir, and <1 s for Os) that evaporation is not an issue. This is supported by measurements of the sample mass before and after the experiment that lead to values within the uncertainties of the balance (0.1 mg). Evaporation rates were not measured in these experiments but could be obtained by levitating a sample for a long time (for example, 15 minutes) as explained elsewhere (37). The conventional methods often imply chemical reactions between the melt and a crucible, a support or residual gases. This can alter the final density values.

Other possible sources of error could arise from the imaging technique (for example, optical focusing or image digitisation) and the measurements of sample mass. Material purity, oxygen solubility in the samples and gasification could also, to some extent, explain the discrepancies. Temperature measurements too are subject to errors and are complicated by the fact that emissivity data are scarce for metals above their melting temperature and, to our knowledge, have not been reported for undercooled materials (38). The interested reader can find a detailed analysis for each of the pgms elsewhere (46, 8, 10, 11) together with a complete comparison with the literature data, when available, obtained with conventional methods (2136).

3.2 Surface Tension

The surface tension was measured over large temperature ranges, well above the melting temperature and down into the undercooled region as shown in Figure 5 for all pgms except Pd (4, 5, 8, 10, 11). Although the density as a function of temperature was known and the radius could be tracked in real time, severe evaporation for Pd samples hindered these measurements because of the time needed to perform the experiments (one hour) and because the window of the vacuum chamber as well as the electrodes of the levitator became coated which made the sample unstable.

Fig. 5.

Representative surface tension data of equilibrium and non-equilibrium liquid pgms measured with an electrostatic levitator and compared with literature values as a function of temperature: (a) Pt (11, 22, 23, 39, 40); (b) Rh (4, 23, 28, 41); (c) Ru (5, 23, 32); (d) Ir (12, 23, 34, 40); (e) Os (10, 23, 36)

Representative surface tension data of equilibrium and non-equilibrium liquid pgms measured with an electrostatic levitator and compared with literature values as a function of temperature: (a) Pt (11, 22, 23, 39, 40); (b) Rh (4, 23, 28, 41); (c) Ru (5, 23, 32); (d) Ir (12, 23, 34, 40); (e) Os (10, 23, 36)

The uncertainty of the measurements was estimated to be better than 5% from the response of the oscillation detector and from the uncertainty in density measurements. In all measurements, the surface tension exhibited a linear behaviour as a function of temperature. The data, including those reported in the literature, are listed in Table III. At the melting point, the values obtained by electrostatic levitation (4, 5, 8, 1012) show very good agreement with most published values when the respective experimental uncertainties are considered (22, 28, 32, 34, 36, 3941) and the temperature coefficients compare generally well with those calculated by Allen (23).

Table III

Summary of the Platinum Group Metals Surface Tension Data Measured by Electrostatic Levitation (4, 5, 8, 1012) Compared with the Literature Values (22, 23, 28, 32, 34, 36, 3941)

Surface Tension, γ
MetalTm, Kγ(Tm), 10–3 N m–1/dT, 10–3 N m–1 K–1Temperature range, KReference
Pt 2041 1800 –0.14 1743–2313 Electrostatic levitation (11)
1799 –0.17 1771–2141 Electrostatic levitation (12)
1869 2041 Quincke in (22)
1673 2053 Quincke in (22)
1740 2041 Eremenko in (22)
1699 2073 Kozakevitch in (22)
1800 2041 Allen (23)
1746 –0.307 2041–2148 Dubinin in (22)
1865 2041 Kingery (39)
1707 2043 Martsenyuk (40)
Rh 2237 1940 –0.30 1860–2380 Electrostatic levitation (4)
1925 –0.28 2041–2403 Electrostatic levitation (12)
2000 2237 Allen (23)
1940 2237 Eremenko (28)
1915 –0.664 2237–2473 Gushchin et al. (41)
Ru 2607 2256 –0.24 2450–2725 Electrostatic levitation (5)
2269 –0.27 2275–2773 Electrostatic levitation (12)
2250 2607 Allen (23)
2180 2607 Martsenyuk et al. (32)
Ir 2719 2241 –0.16 2373–2833 Electrostatic levitation (7)
2262 –0.28 2414–2808 Electrostatic levitation (12)
2250 2720 Allen (23)
2264 –0.247 2720–2873 Apollova et al. (34)
2140 2720 Martsenyuk (40)
Os 3306 2480 –0.34 3230–3605 Electrostatic levitation (10)
2500 3306 Allen (23)
2400 3306 Vinet et al. (36)

Here again, the discrepancy observed between the results (values at the melting temperature as well as temperature coefficients) obtained with electrostatic levitation and other methods could be understood due to the fact that the containerless approach in high vacuum isolated the samples from container walls and gases, whereas the other methods imply possible chemical reactions between the reactive melts and a crucible, a support or residual gases. Melt contamination is possible and can drastically impact the surface tension. Sources of discrepancy or contamination include material purity, oxygen solubility in the samples, gasification and surface oxidation or nitridation from residual gases. Temperature measurements can also affect the end results. A full comparison with the data reported in the literature, when available, as well as a complete analysis could be found in prior papers (4, 5, 8, 1012).

3.3 Viscosity

The viscosity could also be measured over large temperature ranges, well above the melting temperature and down into the undercooled region as shown in Figure 6 for all pgms except Pd (4, 5, 8, 1013). Although the density as a function of temperature was known and the radius could be tracked in real time, severe evaporation for Pd samples again hindered these measurements because of the time needed to perform the experiments (one hour) and because the window of the vacuum chamber as well as the electrodes of the levitator became coated and made the sample unstable. The data shown in Figure 6 were taken using a new procedure that consisted of measuring the viscosity on small samples and using a lower feedback control frequency to minimise the effect on the damping oscillation (20). Data from the literature (Zhuchenko et al. (42) and Demidovich et al. (43)) are also superimposed in Figure 6. The temperature dependence of the viscosity exhibited an Arrhenius behaviour for all measured metals. The uncertainty of the measurements was estimated to be better than 15% from the response of the oscillation detector. The values of the levitation measurements (4, 5, 8, 1013) and the very scarce literature data (42, 43) are summarised in Table IV for completeness.

Fig. 6.

Representative viscosity data of equilibrium and non-equilibrium liquid pgms measured with an electrostatic levitator and compared with literature values as a function of temperature: (a) Pt (11, 12, 42); (b) Rh (4, 12, 43); (c) Ru (5, 12); (d) Ir (8, 12); (e) Os (10, 13).

Representative viscosity data of equilibrium and non-equilibrium liquid pgms measured with an electrostatic levitator and compared with literature values as a function of temperature: (a) Pt (11, 12, 42); (b) Rh (4, 12, 43); (c) Ru (5, 12); (d) Ir (8, 12); (e) Os (10, 13).

Table IV

Summary of the Platinum Group Metals Viscosity Data Measured by Electrostatic Levitation (4, 5, 8, 1013) Compared with the Literature Values (42, 43)

Viscosity, η
η=η0exp(E/RT)
MetalTm, Kη(Tm), 10–3 Pa sη0, 10–3 Pa sE, 103 J mol–1Temperature range, KReferenceNote
Pt 2041 4.82 0.25 49.9 1743–2313 Electrostatic levitation (11)
7.1 1.72 22.8 1771–2141 Electrostatic levitation (12) (a)
6.74 1.53 25.263 2041–2273 Zhuchenko et al. (42)
Rh 2237 2.9 0.09 64.3 1860–2380 Electrostatic levitation (4)
4.9 1.31 24.7 2041–2403 Electrostatic levitation (12) (a)
5 2236 Demidovich et al. (43)
Ru 2607 6.1 0.60 49.8 2450–2725 Electrostatic levitation (5)
5.0 0.47 51.2 2275–2773 Electrostatic levitation (12) (a)
Ir 2719 7.0 1.85 30.0 2373–2773 Electrostatic levitation (8)
6.0 0.59 52.2 2414–2808 Electrostatic levitation (12) (a)
Os 3306 4.2 0.0017 220 3230–3605 Electrostatic levitation (10)
7.0 0.098 117.5 3265–3542 Electrostatic levitation (13) (a)

(a) Denotes the improved measurement procedure (20)

4. Conclusions

The density, the surface tension and the viscosity of pgms in their equilibrium and non-equilibrium liquid phases were measured using the unique capabilities of an electrostatic levitation facility. The data obtained with electrostatic levitation were compared with those reported in the literature. The density and surface tension data summarised in this report highlight that measurements were taken over wide temperature ranges and that electrostatic levitation alone can offer values in the undercooled region. Furthermore, for refractory pgms (Ru, Ir, Os), electrostatic levitation is the only technique that can provide density and surface tension data over a temperature span covering even the undercooled region. Electrostatic levitation is also the only technique that can generate viscosity data for Ru, Ir and Os. The method not only gives a value at the melting point, but offers data for the superheated and the undercooled phases. Ongoing efforts focus on measurements of surface tension and viscosity of Pd to complete the series of property measurements of the pgms.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science for a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B). The authors are also grateful to Y. Watanabe and H. Tomioka (AES Co Ltd) for technical help in several experiments and post-levitation microstructure analysis.

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The Authors

Paul-François Paradis is a senior scientist at INO where he pursues research and development on spectroscopic lidars for ground and space applications and is a consultant at JAXA in the field of containerless materials processing. Prior activities at JAXA and National Aeronautics and Space Administration Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA-JPL) focused on levitators and diagnostic techniques development for refractory materials.

Takehiko Ishikawa is a professor of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of JAXA. His investigation includes the development of levitation furnaces and non-contact diagnostic techniques and thermophysical and structural characterisation of liquid metals.

Junpei Tamura-Okada is an assistant professor of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of JAXA. His interests are the measurement of the physical properties of undercooled liquids and the development of new materials from undercooled liquids.

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