Atomic-scale dynamics of a model glass-forming metallic liquid: Dynamical crossover, dynamical decoupling, and dynamical clustering

A Jaiswal and T Egami and Y Zhang, PHYSICAL REVIEW B, 91, 134204 (2015).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.91.134204

The phase behavior of multicomponent metallic liquids is exceedingly complex because of the convoluted many-body and many-elemental interactions. Herein, we present systematic studies of the dynamical aspects of a model ternary metallic liquid Cu40Zr51Al9 using molecular dynamics simulations with embedded atom method. We observed a dynamical crossover from Arrhenius to super-Arrhenius behavior in the transport properties (self diffusion coefficient, self relaxation time, and shear viscosity) bordered at T-x similar to 1300 K. Unlike in many molecular and macromolecular liquids, this crossover phenomenon occurs well above the melting point of the system (T-m similar to 900 K) in the equilibrium liquid state; and the crossover temperature T-x is roughly twice of the glass-transition temperature of the system (T-g). Below T-x, we found the elemental dynamics decoupled and the Stokes-Einstein relation broke down, indicating the onset of heterogeneous spatially correlated dynamics in the system mediated by dynamic communications among local configurational excitations. To directly characterize and visualize the correlated dynamics, we employed a nonparametric, unsupervised machine learning technique and identified dynamical clusters of atoms with similar atomic mobility. The revealed average dynamical cluster size shows an accelerated increase below T-x and mimics the trend observed in other ensemble averaged quantities that are commonly used to quantify the spatially heterogeneous dynamics such as the non-Gaussian parameter alpha(2) and the four-point correlation function chi(4).

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