Role of string-like collective atomic motion on diffusion and structural relaxation in glass forming Cu-Zr alloys

H Zhang and C Zhong and JF Douglas and XD Wang and QP Cao and DX Zhang and JZ Jiang, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 142, 164506 (2015).

DOI: 10.1063/1.4918807

We investigate Cu-Zr liquid alloys using molecular dynamics simulation and well-accepted embedded atom method potentials over a wide range of chemical composition and temperature as model metallic glass-forming (GF) liquids. As with other types of GF materials, the dynamics of these complex liquids are characterized by "dynamic heterogeneity" in the form of transient polymeric clusters of highly mobile atoms that are composed in turn of atomic clusters exhibiting string-like cooperative motion. In accordance with the string model of relaxation, an extension of the Adam-Gibbs (AG) model, changes in the activation free energy Delta G(a) with temperature of both the Cu and Zr diffusion coefficients D, and the alpha structural relaxation time tau(alpha) can be described to a good approximation by changes in the average string length, L. In particular, we confirm that the strings are a concrete realization of the abstract "cooperatively rearranging regions" of AG. We also find coexisting clusters of relatively "immobile" atoms that exhibit predominantly icosahedral local packing rather than the low symmetry packing of "mobile" atoms. These two distinct types of dynamic heterogeneity are then associated with different fluid structural states. Glass-forming liquids are thus analogous to polycrystalline materials where the icosahedrally packed regions correspond to crystal grains, and the strings reside in the relatively disordered grain boundary-like regions exterior to these locally well-ordered regions. A dynamic equilibrium between localized ("immobile") and wandering ("mobile") particles exists in the liquid so that the dynamic heterogeneity can be considered to be type of self-assembly process. We also characterize changes in the local atomic free volume in the course of string-like atomic motion to better understand the initiation and propagation of these fluid excitations. (C) 2015 AIP Publishing LLC.

Return to Publications page