Atomistic free-volume zones and inelastic deformation of metallic glasses

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-623
Journal / PublicationNature Materials
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes


The amorphous nature of metallic glasses and their mechanical properties make them interesting for structural applications. However, the interplay between the nature of atomic structures in metallic glasses and mechanical properties remains poorly understood. In this study, high-frequency dynamic micropillar tests have been used to probe both atomic clusters and flow defects in metallic glasses. We show that loosely bonded atomistic free-volume zones that are enveloped elastically by tightly bonded atomic clusters show a deformation character similar to supercooled liquids. At room temperature, the effective viscosity of these free-volume zones is of the order of 1×108 Pa s before the occurrence of shear banding. The confined liquid-like deformation of free-volume zones leads to significant mechanical hysteresis in micropillars under dynamic loading, providing important insight into how atomistic structural features affect the deformation behaviours in metallic glasses in the apparent elastic regime. The inelastic behaviour also serves as the basis for the superior damping resistance of metallic glasses. © 2010 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

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