Atomic Scale Fluctuations Govern Brittle Fracture and Cavitation Behavior in Metallic Glasses

P Murali and TF Guo and YW Zhang and R Narasimhan and Y Li and HJ Gao, PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS, 107, 215501 (2011).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.107.215501

We perform atomistic simulations on the fracture behavior of two typical metallic glasses, one brittle (FeP) and the other ductile (CuZr), and show that brittle fracture in the FeP glass is governed by an intrinsic cavitation mechanism near crack tips in contrast to extensive shear banding in the ductile CuZr glass. We show that a high degree of atomic scale spatial fluctuations in the local properties is the main reason for the observed cavitation behavior in the brittle metallic glass. Our study corroborates with recent experimental observations of nanoscale cavity nucleation found on the brittle fracture surfaces of metallic glasses and provides important insights into the root cause of the ductile versus brittle behavior in such materials.

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