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Metallic glasses

Tunable nanostructures

Nature Commun. 6, 7043 (2015)


Metallic glasses are attractive materials for use in small-scale devices, including microelectromechanical systems. Perhaps the biggest advantage they offer is the lack of large constituent building blocks (such as grains in polycrystalline materials), resulting in the small-scale limit for the size of a part not being constrained. However, fabricating metallic glass nano-architectures is problematic, and the range of suitable material compositions for existing approaches is limited. Yanhui Liu et al. have now demonstrated a deposition-based approach for synthesizing high-aspect-ratio metallic glass nanostructures, where the substrate is rotated between different element-specific sputtering guns. By varying deposition rate from each target, and rotation speed of the substrate, nanostructures within a wide composition range can be achieved. Additionally, it is possible to fabricate hybrid nanostructures, in which the composition in a single structure changes, and to control feature geometry. Developing new processing routes for metallic glasses at the nanoscale may broaden the scope for utilizing their unique properties at the small scale.


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Plummer, J. Tunable nanostructures. Nature Mater 14, 556 (2015).

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