Formation of an amorphous zirconium-nickel phase by solid state reaction of a layered crystalline structure has been studied by in-situ resistivity, x-ray diffraction, and Auger depth profiling. The reaction was studied as a function of layer thickness and reaction temperature.
Samples with a layer thickness of less than 4 atomic planes had x-ray diffraction spectra with one broad maximum characteristic of amorphous material. As the layer thickness increased, the maximum broadened and separated into two resolved peaks corresponding to crystalline nickel and zirconium. These structures were transformed to an amorphous nickel-zirconium alloy by an anneal at temperatures below the crystallization temperature of the amorphous phase. The reaction occured by a layer growth process, where the thickness of the layer evolved linearly with the square root of time.