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We present an analysis of the stability of a dendrite against a small perturbation to the tip velocity. We find that dendritic growth in pure metals and alloys will become unstable above some upper critical undercooling ΔT2*. In alloys above a critical concentration, dendritic growth may also become unstable below a lower critical undercooling, ΔT1*. In the example systems studied, Ni–Cu and Ag–O, the location of these unstable regions shows remarkably close agreement with the onset of spontaneous grain refinement. We obtain values of ΔT2* for Ni and Ag of 195 K and 160 K, respectively, in good agreement with the observed values of 170 K and 133–153 K. © 1997 American Institute of Physics.
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