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Nanocrystallization in marginal glass forming alloys

Demirtaş, Tuba
The marginal glass-forming alloys have attracted much attention due to unique products of devitrification with a very high number density of nuclei up to 10^23 m^-3. Among these alloy systems, utmost interest is given to Al-RE and Al-TM-RE alloys with excellent lightweight mechanical (fracture strength close to 1 GPa) and chemical properties attributed to the presence of an extremely high density of nanocrystals embedded in an amorphous matrix. Classical nucleation theory fails in explaining this abnormal nucleation behavior, several other mechanisms have been proposed; however, there is still no agreement on the exact nucleation mechanism. Al-Tb system was investigated in liquid and solid amorphous states with a collective study of ab-initio MD and RMC simulations and state of art X-rays and e-beam techniques. Regions of pure Al clusters in the solid and liquid states were detected with the sizes extending up to 1-2 nm length. Al clusters interconnecting regions lead to formation of RE rich MRO structure which gave rise to the pre-peak in S(Q)-Q data in liquid and solid states. Specimens having MRO were crystallized within a controlled atmosphere and temperature and investigated using a combined study of TEM, HRTEM, SEM, XRD and DSC. HRTEM investigations and JMA results indicated different mechanism of nucleation. Therefore the kinetics of highly populated nuclei formation was found too complicated to be explained by well-known JMA approach. Mechanical tests were applied to determine the effects of morphology and populations of nanocrystals embedded in amorphous matrix. The tensile tests and the subsequent fracture surface analysis indicated brittle type of failure and the formation of shear bands, respectively. Relatively high hardness and tensile strength were detected by nanocrystallization.