Delocalized Plastic Flow in Proton-Irradiated Monolithic Metallic Glasses

J Heo and S Kim and S Ryu and D Jang, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 6, 23244 (2016).

DOI: 10.1038/srep23244

Creating new materials with novel properties through structural modification is the Holy Grail of materials science. The range of targetable structures for amplification of mechanical properties in metallic glasses would include types of atomic short range orders at the smallest scale through compositions or morphologies of phases in composites. Even though the usefulness of the latter approach has been successfully demonstrated in the past decades, the feasibility of the former has been incompletely proved with only marginal property improvements reported within experimentally-accessible atomic-level structural changes. Here, we report the significant enhancement of deformability in Zr-based monolithic metallic glass only through the atomic disordering by proton irradiation without altering any other structural traits. Metallic glass nanopillars that originally failed catastrophically without any notable plasticity become capable of attaining more than 30% uniaxial plastic strain accommodated by homogeneous deformation when irradiated to similar to 1 displacement per atom (DPA). We discuss the atomistic origin of this improved plasticity in terms of density and spatial distributions of icosahedral short range order influenced by irradiation.

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