Bulk metallic glasses are emerging as a new class of materials that can have applications ranging from structural materials to materials for future nanotechnology. However, catastrophic mechanical failure is a serious issue hindering the use of these materials in engineering applications. Here we introduce an approach to understanding and solving the problem of brittleness of metallic glasses. We have shown that even a very brittle metallic glass (La based) can be forced to deform plastically at room temperature if it is made in the form of multilayers involving other metallic glasses, i.e., a two-phase glass. The mechanically soft glassy layer (La based) having a lower critical shear stress acts as a nucleation or an initiation site for shear bands and the mechanically hard glassy layer (Zr based) acts as an obstacle to the propagation of shear bands. This process results in the multiplication of shear bands. Since the shear bands are associated with a local rise in temperature, a large number of shear bands can raise the overall temperature of the soft layer and eventually can drive it to the supercooled liquid state, where deformation of metallic glass is very large and homogeneous. The results reported here not only clarify the mechanism of large plastic deformation in two-phase glassy alloys but also suggest the possibility of a different kind of two-phase bulk glassy alloys exhibiting large plastic deformation at room temperature.
|Physical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
|Published - 2009 Aug 6