Nucleation of soft magnetic Fe3Si nanocrystals in Cu-free Fe74.5Si15.5Nb3B7 alloy, upon rapid (10 s) and conventional (30 min) annealing, was investigated using x-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy, Mössbauer spectroscopy, and atom probe tomography. By employing rapid annealing, preferential nucleation of Fe3Si nanocrystals was achieved, whereas otherwise there is simultaneous nucleation of both Fe3Si and undesired Fe-B compound phases. Analysis revealed that the enhanced Nb diffusivity, achieved during rapid annealing, facilitates homogeneous nucleation of Fe3Si nanocrystals while shifting the secondary Fe-B crystallization to higher temperatures resulting in pure soft magnetic nanocrystallization with very low coercivities of ∼10 A/m.

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