Mechanism to Diminish the Supercooling of the Tin Freezing Point by using Graphite Powder

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The formation of crystallization centers from extremely pure molten tin is normally associated with deep supercooling. This deep supercooling is inconvenient for the operation of tin freezing-point cells, especially for sealed tin fixed-point cells without a holder to facilitate removal from the furnace. Researchers of the National Institute of Metrology (NIM) intended and succeeded in reducing this deep supercooling by adding fine and pure graphite powders to tin fixed-point cells without influencing the fixed-point temperature, but the mechanism is yet to be properly clarified. The principle of heterogeneous nucleation indicates that a decrease of the contact angle of the crystalline nucleus on the substrate surface results in a significant reduction of supercooling required for initiation of nucleation. The heterogeneous theory is utilized by the authors of this paper to give a reasonable description of the mechanism of supercooling reduction by addition of graphite powder. It is demonstrated that the freezing plateau can be realized by the natural cooling of the tin cell within the furnace without using the ‘outside nucleation’ technique. The maximum temperature of the freezing curves of the tin cell with graphite powder agrees well with the reference tin cell without the graphite powder, and the cells with graphite powder show good consistency.

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