Letter | Published:

Rejuvenation of metallic glasses by non-affine thermal strain

Nature volume 524, pages 200203 (13 August 2015) | Download Citation

Abstract

When a spatially uniform temperature change is imposed on a solid with more than one phase, or on a polycrystal of a single, non-cubic phase (showing anisotropic expansion–contraction), the resulting thermal strain is inhomogeneous (non-affine). Thermal cycling induces internal stresses, leading to structural and property changes that are usually deleterious. Glasses are the solids that form on cooling a liquid if crystallization is avoided—they might be considered the ultimate, uniform solids, without the microstructural features and defects associated with polycrystals. Here we explore the effects of cryogenic thermal cycling on glasses, specifically metallic glasses. We show that, contrary to the null effect expected from uniformity, thermal cycling induces rejuvenation, reaching less relaxed states of higher energy. We interpret these findings in the context that the dynamics in liquids become heterogeneous on cooling towards the glass transition1, and that there may be consequent heterogeneities in the resulting glasses. For example, the vibrational dynamics of glassy silica at long wavelengths are those of an elastic continuum, but at wavelengths less than approximately three nanometres the vibrational dynamics are similar to those of a polycrystal with anisotropic grains2. Thermal cycling of metallic glasses is easily applied, and gives improvements in compressive plasticity. The fact that such effects can be achieved is attributed to intrinsic non-uniformity of the glass structure, giving a non-uniform coefficient of thermal expansion. While metallic glasses may be particularly suitable for thermal cycling, the non-affine nature of strains in glasses in general deserves further study, whether they are induced by applied stresses or by temperature change.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI), MEXT, Japan, by NSF China and MOST 973 China, and by the Engineering and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, UK (Materials World Network project). Y.H.S. acknowledges support from a China Scholarship Council (CSC) scholarship. M. L. Falk, T. C. Hufnagel, E. Ma, D. B. Miracle and J. Orava are thanked for discussions. All data accompanying this publication are directly available within the publication and the accompanying Extended Data figures and tables.

Author information

Author notes

    • S. V. Ketov
    •  & Y. H. Sun

    These authors contributed equally to this work.

Affiliations

  1. WPI Advanced Institute for Materials Research (WPI-AIMR), Tohoku University, 2-1-1 Katahira, Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-8577, Japan

    • S. V. Ketov
    • , D. V. Louzguine-Luzgin
    •  & A. L. Greer
  2. University of Cambridge, Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy, 27 Charles Babbage Road, Cambridge CB3 0FS, UK

    • Y. H. Sun
    • , S. Nachum
    • , A. Checchi
    • , A. R. Beraldin
    •  & A. L. Greer
  3. Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100080, China

    • Z. Lu
    • , H. Y. Bai
    •  & W. H. Wang
  4. Department of Management and Engineering, University of Padua, 3 Stradella San Nicola, Vicenza 36100, Italy

    • A. Checchi
    •  & A. R. Beraldin
  5. University of Cambridge, Department of Earth Sciences, Cambridge CB2 3EQ, UK

    • M. A. Carpenter

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Contributions

Preparation of metallic glasses was by S.V.K. and Z.L. The thermal-cycling treatments were performed by Y.H.S., S.V.K., A.R.B. and A.C.; calorimetry by Y.H.S., S.V.K., Z.L., A.C. and A.R.B.; nano-indentation by S.N. and A.R.B.; compression and microhardness tests by S.V.K., Y.H.S., A.R.B. and A.C.; X-ray diffraction by S.V.K. and Y.H.S.; and resonant ultrasound spectroscopy by Y.H.S., M.A.C., A.R.B. and A.C. Direction of the work was by D.V.L.-L. (Sendai), H.Y.B. and W.H.W. (Beijing), and A.L.G (Cambridge). A.L.G. led the project and the writing of the paper. All authors contributed to interpretation and presentation of the results.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to A. L. Greer.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nature14674

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