Journal: Nature Communications
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Finding order in an atomic jumble
The nanostructural features that impart exotic alloys called metallic glasses with their special physical properties have been identified.
Most metals and alloys have crystalline structures, whereas the atoms in metallic glasses are not arranged in periodic structures. While this amorphous atomic arrangement can lead to desirable properties, it has made it difficult for researchers to tease out the relationship between the atomic structure of a given metallic glass and its physical properties.
A team that included researchers from the Advanced Institute for Materials Research at Tohoku University has used atomic force microscopy and scanning transmission electron microscopy to analyse metallic glasses, measuring a structural feature called spatial heterogeneity. They established that this well-defined parameter intrinsically correlates with properties such as strength and deformation.
The discovery should allow the properties of existing metallic glasses to be rationalized and metallic glasses with improved properties to be designed.
- Nature Communications 9, 3965 (2018). doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06476-8