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  1. The crystallization of amorphous solids impacts fields ranging from inorganic crystal growth to biophysics. Promoting or inhibiting nanoscale epitaxial crystallization and selecting its final products underpin applications in cryopreservation, semiconductor devices, oxide electronics, quantum electronics, structural and functional ceramics, and advanced glasses. As precursors for crystallization, amorphous solids are distinguished from liquids and gases by the comparatively long relaxation times for perturbations of the mechanical stress and for variations in composition or bonding. These factors allow experimentally controllable parameters to influence crystallization processes and to drive materials toward specific outcomes. For example, amorphous precursors can be employed to form crystalline phases, such as polymorphs of Al 2 O 3 , VO 2 , and other complex oxides, that are not readily accessible via crystallization from a liquid or through vapor-phase epitaxy. Crystallization of amorphous solids can further be guided to produce a desired polymorph, nanoscale shape, microstructure, or orientation of the resulting crystals. These effects enable advances in applications in electronics, magnetic devices, optics, and catalysis. Directions for the future development of the chemical physics of crystallization from amorphous solids can be drawn from the structurally complex and nonequilibrium atomic arrangements in liquids and the atomic-scale structure of liquid–solid interfaces.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 14, 2023
  2. Abstract

    Improved energy levels for singly ionized and neutral hafnium of both even and odd parity are determined from Fourier transform spectrometer data using a least-squares optimization procedure. Data from interferometric spectrometers provide much tighter control of systematic uncertainties of line position measurements than can be achieved using dispersive spectrometers. The strong optical and near-UV lines connecting these levels are most likely to be used in the determination of isotopic abundance patterns. Comparisons of new results to published ones strongly suggest that our energy levels have systematic uncertainties in the mK (1 mK = 0.001 cm−1) range or smaller, and that widely used tables of energy levels for ionized Hf have systematic errors of approximately 70 mK.

  3. Electrochemical synthesis of hydrogen peroxide (H 2 O 2 ) in acidic solution can enable the electro-Fenton process for decentralized environmental remediation, but robust and inexpensive electrocatalysts for the selective two-electron oxygen reduction reaction (2e − ORR) are lacking. Here, we present a joint computational/experimental study that shows both structural polymorphs of earth-abundant cobalt diselenide (orthorhombic o -CoSe 2 and cubic c -CoSe 2 ) are stable against surface oxidation and catalyst leaching due to the weak O* binding to Se sites, are highly active and selective for the 2e − ORR, and deliver higher kinetic current densities for H 2 O 2 production than the state-of-the-art noble metal or single-atom catalysts in acidic solution. o -CoSe 2 nanowires directly grown on carbon paper electrodes allow for the steady bulk electrosynthesis of H 2 O 2 in 0.05 M H 2 SO 4 with a practically useful accumulated concentration of 547 ppm, the highest among the reported 2e − ORR catalysts in acidic solution. Such efficient and stable H 2 O 2 electrogeneration further enables the effective electro-Fenton process for model organic pollutant degradation.
  4. A multistep phase sequence following the crystallization of amorphous Al2O3 via solid-phase epitaxy (SPE) points to methods to create low-defect-density thin films of the metastable cubic γ-Al2O3 polymorph. An amorphous Al2O3 thin film on a (0001) α-Al2O3 sapphire substrate initially transforms upon heating to form epitaxial γ-Al2O3, followed by a transformation to monoclinic θ-Al2O3, and eventually to α-Al2O3. Epitaxial γ-Al2O3 layers with low mosaic widths in X-ray rocking curves can be formed via SPE by crystallizing the γ-Al2O3 phase from amorphous Al2O3 and avoiding the microstructural inhomogeneity arising from the spatially inhomogeneous transformation to θ-Al2O3. A complementary molecular dynamics (MD) simulation indicates that the amorphous layer and γ-Al2O3 have similar Al coordination geometry, suggesting that γ-Al2O3 forms in part because it involves the minimum rearrangement of the initially amorphous configuration. The lattice parameters of γ-Al2O3 are consistent with a structure in which the majority of the Al vacancies in the spinel structure occupy sites with tetrahedral coordination, consistent with the MD results. The formation of Al vacancies at tetrahedral spinel sites in epitaxial γ-Al2O3 can minimize the epitaxial elastic deformation of γ-Al2O3 during crystallization.