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Heavy Metal Islands

In a matter of seconds, fully-formed metal islands have been observed exploding out of a silicon surface wetted with lead atoms. This island formation vastly differs from the classical model of nucleation, where islands form from the gradual aggregation of randomly moving surface atoms and can grow slowly over hours. At temperatures well below freezing, lead atoms are systematically deposited onto a thick piece of silicon wafer, forming an amorphous layer known as a wetting layer.

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