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This article provides information on four different length scales at which surface morphology can be viewed: macro, meso, micro and nanoscale. Elementary thermodynamics demonstrates that a liquid cannot solidify unless some undercooling below the equilibrium (melting) temperature occurs. The article details five types of solidification undercooling, namely, kinetic, thermal, constitutional (solutal), curvature, and pressure undercooling. It explains the types of nucleation which occur in the melt during solidification. The effects of local instabilities at the solid/liquid interface during growth are illustrated. The article also describes the solidification structures of pure metals, solid solutions, eutectics, peritectics, and monotectics.

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