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Concept: Amorphous metal


The response of amorphous steels to shock wave compression has been explored for the first time. Further, the effect of partial devitrification on the shock response of bulk metallic glasses is examined by conducting experiments on two iron-based in situ metallic glass matrix composites, containing varying amounts of crystalline precipitates, both with initial composition Fe49.7Cr17.7Mn1.9Mo7.4W1.6B15.2C3.8Si2.4. The samples, designated SAM2X5-600 and SAM2X5-630, are X-ray amorphous and partially crystalline, respectively, due to differences in sintering parameters during sample preparation. Shock response is determined by making velocity measurements using interferometry techniques at the rear free surface of the samples, which have been subjected to impact from a high-velocity projectile launched from a powder gun. Experiments have yielded results indicating a Hugoniot Elastic Limit (HEL) to be 8.58 ± 0.53 GPa for SAM2X5-600 and 11.76 ± 1.26 GPa for SAM2X5-630. The latter HEL result is higher than elastic limits for any BMG reported in the literature thus far. SAM2X5-600 catastrophically loses post-yield strength whereas SAM2X5-630, while showing some strain-softening, retains strength beyond the HEL. The presence of crystallinity within the amorphous matrix is thus seen to significantly aid in strengthening the material as well as preserving material strength beyond yielding.

Concepts: Metal, Solid, Materials science, Tensile strength, Glass, Shock wave, Amorphous solids, Amorphous metal


A bulk metallic glass (BMG) micro fuel cell displays advantages over traditional micro fuel cell designs in terms of performance and fabrication. The BMG gas flow fields are durable and shock and corrosion resistant, and the Pt-BMG catalytic layers (including Pt-BMG nanowires) are promising candidates for use in micro fuel cells.

Concepts: Electrochemistry, Carbon, Metal, Solid, Electrolysis, Fuel cell, Corrosion, Amorphous metal


All metallic glasses (MGs), irrespective of their compositions, become brittle in the intermediate temperature range of 0.6-0.7 Tg However, most materials are expected to carry higher strains during deformation with increasing temperature. This behavior of MGs is explained by describing the competition between shear banding and diffusive relaxation processes, and is reminiscent of the “intermediate temperature ductility minimum” observed in polycrystalline metals.

Concepts: Aluminium, Metal, Continuum mechanics, Electrical conductivity, Titanium, Nickel, Metalworking, Amorphous metal


The use of bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) as the flexspline in strain wave gears (SWGs), also known as harmonic drives, is presented. SWGs are unique, ultra-precision gearboxes that function through the elastic flexing of a thin-walled cup, called a flexspline. The current research demonstrates that BMGs can be cast at extremely low cost relative to machining and can be implemented into SWGs as an alternative to steel. This approach may significantly reduce the cost of SWGs, enabling lower-cost robotics. The attractive properties of BMGs, such as hardness, elastic limit and yield strength, may also be suitable for extreme environment applications in spacecraft.

Concepts: Aluminium, Metal, Tensile strength, Elasticity, Linear elasticity, Hooke's law, Amorphous metal, Plasticity


Great progress has been made in understanding the atomic structure of metallic glasses, but there is still no clear connection between atomic structure and glass-forming ability. Here we give new insights into perhaps the most important question in the field of amorphous metals: how can glass-forming ability be predicted from atomic structure? We give a new approach to modelling metallic glass atomic structures by solving three long-standing problems: we discover a new family of structural defects that discourage glass formation; we impose efficient local packing around all atoms simultaneously; and we enforce structural self-consistency. Fewer than a dozen binary structures satisfy these constraints, but extra degrees of freedom in structures with three or more different atom sizes significantly expand the number of relatively stable, ‘bulk’ metallic glasses. The present work gives a new approach towards achieving the long-sought goal of a predictive capability for bulk metallic glasses.

Concepts: Atom, Chemical element, Metal, Solid, Amorphous solids, Amorphous metal


Metallic glasses attract considerable interest due to their unique combination of superb properties and processability. Predicting their formation from known alloy parameters remains the major hindrance to the discovery of new systems. Here, we propose a descriptor based on the heuristics that structural and energetic ‘confusion’ obstructs crystalline growth, and demonstrate its validity by experiments on two well-known glass-forming alloy systems. We then develop a robust model for predicting glass formation ability based on the geometrical and energetic features of crystalline phases calculated ab initio in the AFLOW framework. Our findings indicate that the formation of metallic glass phases could be much more common than currently thought, with more than 17% of binary alloy systems potential glass formers. Our approach pinpoints favourable compositions and demonstrates that smart descriptors, based solely on alloy properties available in online repositories, offer the sought-after key for accelerated discovery of metallic glasses.

Concepts: Iron, Metal, Solid, Metallurgy, Alloys, Amorphous metal


Metallic glass (MG) is an important new category of materials, but very few rigorous laws are currently known for defining its “disordered” structure. Recently we found that under compression, the volume (V) of an MG changes precisely to the 2.5 power of its principal diffraction peak position (1/q1). In the present study, we find that this 2.5 power law holds even through the first-order polyamorphic transition of a Ce68Al10Cu20Co2 MG. This transition is, in effect, the equivalent of a continuous “composition” change of 4f-localized “big Ce” to 4f-itinerant “small Ce,” indicating the 2.5 power law is general for tuning with composition. The exactness and universality imply that the 2.5 power law may be a general rule defining the structure of MGs.

Concepts: Metal, Titanium, Amorphous metal, Monoid


The initiation and propagation of shear bands is an important mode of localized inhomogeneous deformation that occurs in a wide range of materials. In metallic glasses, shear band development is considered to center on a structural heterogeneity, a shear transformation zone that evolves into a rapidly propagating shear band under a shear stress above a threshold. Deformation by shear bands is a nucleation-controlled process, but the initiation process is unclear. Here we use nanoindentation to probe shear band nucleation during loading by measuring the first pop-in event in the load-depth curve which is demonstrated to be associated with shear band formation. We analyze a large number of independent measurements on four different bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) alloys and reveal the operation of a bimodal distribution of the first pop-in loads that are associated with different shear band nucleation sites that operate at different stress levels below the glass transition temperature, Tg. The nucleation kinetics, the nucleation barriers, and the density for each site type have been determined. The discovery of multiple shear band nucleation sites challenges the current view of nucleation at a single type of site and offers opportunities for controlling the ductility of BMG alloys.

Concepts: Continuum mechanics, Force, Solid, Viscosity, Glass, Glass transition, Amorphous solid, Amorphous metal


Micro-honeycomb structures with various pitches between adjacent cells were hot-embossed on Zr35Ti30Cu8.25Be26.75 bulk metallic glass surface. The effect of pitch geometry on the frictional behavior of metallic glass surface was systematically investigated. The results revealed that all textured metallic glass surfaces show a reduction in friction coefficient compared to smooth surface. More intriguingly, the friction coefficient first decreased and then increased gradually with increasing pitches. Such unique behavior can be understood fundamentally from the perspective of competing effects between contact area and local stress level with increasing pitches. This finding not only enhance the in-depth understanding of the mechanism of the significant role of surface topography on the frictional behavior of metallic glass surface, but also opens a new route towards other functional applications for bulk metallic glasses.

Concepts: Metal, Friction, Amorphous metal


Metals of hybrid nano-/microstructures are of broad technological and fundamental interests. Manipulation of shape and composition on the nanoscale, however, is challenging, especially for multicomponent alloys such as metallic glasses. Although top-down approaches have demonstrated nanomoulding, they are limited to very few alloy systems. Here we report a facile method to synthesize metallic glass nanoarchitectures that can be applied to a broad range of glass-forming alloys. This strategy, using multitarget carousel oblique angle deposition, offers the opportunity to achieve control over size, shape and composition of complex alloys at the nanoscale. As a consequence, nanostructures of programmable three-dimensional shapes and tunable compositions are realized on wafer scale for metallic glasses including the marginal glass formers. Realizing nanostructures in a wide compositional range allows chemistry optimization for technological usage of metallic glass nanostructures, and also enables the fundamental study on size, composition and fabrication dependences of metallic glass properties.

Concepts: Iron, Metal, Solid, Metallurgy, Glass, Alloys, Composition, Amorphous metal