Formation of zirconium metallic glass

  • A Retraction to this article was published on 13 October 2005


Bulk metallic glasses are commonly produced by the rapid cooling of liquid alloys1. They have emerged over the past decade as a novel class of materials, with attractive properties and technological promise1,2. The bulk metallic glasses so far produced contain three or more component elements3,4. These complex compositions are necessary to frustrate the crystallization of the liquid melt on cooling, but can also lead to phase separation, which is detrimental to the thermal and mechanical properties of metallic glasses5,6,7,8. Here we report, using X-ray diffraction measurements, the formation of a bulk metallic glass from elemental zirconium at high static pressures and low temperatures (relative to its melting temperature at atmospheric pressure). Amorphous zirconium can be recovered at ambient conditions and demonstrates a superior thermal stability compared to amorphous alloys3,9, which could lead to new high-temperature applications of amorphous metals.

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Figure 1: Glass-forming conditions and stability of amorphous zirconium.
Figure 2: Selected synchrotron X-ray diffraction patterns showing a reversible transformation between ω-phase and amorphous phases of zirconium metal.
Figure 3: Selected diffraction patterns showing the ω–β phase transition and formation of glass from the β-phase of zirconium metal at 8.6 GPa.
Figure 4: Experimental results demonstrating thermal stability/metastability of zirconium metallic glass.


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This work was performed under the auspices of the US Department of Energy with the University of California. The synchrotron X-ray diffraction experiments were conducted at X17B2 beamline of NSLS and BM-13 beamline of APS, operated by COMPRES and GESCARS, respectively.

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Correspondence to Jianzhong Zhang.

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The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Figure 1a

An x-ray scattering image recorded in a CCD detector. (PPT 216 kb)

Supplementary Figure 1b

The integrated diffraction pattern for the recovered zirconium specimen. (PPT 89 kb)

Supplementary Information (DOC 23 kb)

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Zhang, J., Zhao, Y. Formation of zirconium metallic glass. Nature 430, 332–335 (2004).

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