Thermocapillary convection in a laser-heated Ni melt pool: A molecular dynamics study

O Politano and F Baras, JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS, 134, 095301 (2023).

DOI: 10.1063/5.0167061

Thermocapillary convection was investigated in a metallic system of pure Ni, at the nanoscale, by molecular dynamics. The system interface was irradiated by a heat flux, mimicking a focused laser source. The melt pool was submitted to a large temperature gradient that modified the surface tension along the interface. In liquid metal, because surface tension typically decreases with increasing temperature, the result is a gradient of surface tension along the free surface. The liquid metal, therefore, started to flow in the direction of high surface tension. Two counter-rotating convection cells developed, characteristic of those observed in welding and other material processing. A systematic estimation of relevant parameters in hydrodynamics allowed us to interpret the results in terms of Prandtl, Marangoni, and Peclet numbers. This study demonstrates the influence of laser power and system size on pool shape and flow characteristics.

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