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Nano-scale phase separation and glass forming ability of iron-boron based metallic glasses

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2008
Aykol, Muratahan
This study is pertinent to setting a connection between glass forming ability (GFA) and topology of Fe-B based metallic glasses by combining intimate investigations on spatial atomic arrangements conducted via solid computer simulations with experimentations on high GFA bulk metallic glasses. In order to construct a theoretical framework, the nano-scale phase separation encountered in metallic glasses is investigated for amorphous Fe80B20 and Fe83B17 alloys via Monte Carlo equilibration and reverse Monte Carlo simulation. The phenomenon is identified regarding three topological aspects: 1) Pure Fe-clusters as large as ~0.9 nm and Fe-contours with ~0.72 nm thickness, 2) Fe-rich highly deformed body centered cubic regions, 3) B-centered prismatic units with polytetrahedral order forming distinct regions of high and low coordinations are found. All topological aspects are compiled into a new model called Two-Dimensional Projection Model for predicting contributions to short and medium range order (MRO) and corresponding spacing relations. The outcome geometrically involves proportions approximating golden ratio. After successfully producing soft magnetic Fe-Co-Nb-B-Si based bulk metallic glass and bulk nanocrystalline alloys with a totally conventional route, influences of alloying elements on structural units and crystallization modes are identified by the developed model and radial distributions. While Co atoms substitute for Fe atoms, Nb and Si atoms deform trigonal prismatic units to provide local compactions at the outset of MRO. Cu atoms alter the type of MRO which resembles crystalline counterparts and accompanying nanocrystals that precipitate. The GFA can be described by a new parameter quantifying the MRO compaction, cited as Φ.