Glassy nature and glass-to-crystal transition in the binary metallic glass CuZr

ZY Wei and C Shang and XJ Zhang and ZP Liu, PHYSICAL REVIEW B, 95, 214111 (2017).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.95.214111

The prediction for the stability of glassy material is a key challenge in physical science. Here, we report a theoretical framework to predict the glass stability based on stochastic surface walking global optimization and reaction pathway sampling. This is demonstrated by revealing for the first time the global potential energy surface (PES) of two systems, CuZr binary metallic glass and nonglassy pure Cu systems, and establishing the lowest energy pathways linking glassy/amorphous structures with crystalline structures. The CuZr system has a significant number of glassy structures on PES that are similar to 0.045 eV/atom above the crystal structure. Two clear trends are identified from global PES in the glass-to-crystal transition of the CuZr system: (i) the local Zr-Cu coordination (nearest neighbor) increases, and (ii) the local Zr bonding environment becomes homogeneous. This allows us to introduce quantitative structural and energetics conditions to distinguish the glassy structures from the crystalline structures. Because of the local Zr-Cu exchange in the glass-to-crystal transition, a high reaction barrier (> 0.048 eV/atom) is present to separate the glassy structures and the crystals in CuZr. By contrast, the Cu system, although it does possess amorphous structures that appear at much higher energy (similar to 0.075 eV/atom) with respect to the crystal structure, has very low reaction barriers for the crystallization of amorphous structures, i.e. < 0.011 eV/atom. The quantitative data on PES now available from global optimization techniques deepens our understanding on the microscopic nature of glassy material and might eventually facilitate the design of stable glassy materials.

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