Physical origin of glass formation from multicomponent systems

YC Hu and H Tanaka, SCIENCE ADVANCES, 6, eabd2928 (2020).

DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abd2928

The origin of glass formation is one of the most fundamental issues in glass science. The glass-forming ability (GFA) of multicomponent systems, such as metallic glasses and phase-change materials, can be enormously changed by slight modifications of the constituted elements and compositions. However, its physical origin remains mostly unknown. Here, by molecular dynamics simulations, we study three model metallic systems with distinct GFA. We find that they have a similar driving force of crystallization, but a different liquid-crystal interface tension, indicating that the latter dominates the GFA. Furthermore, we show that the interface tension is determined by nontrivial coupling between structural and compositional orderings and affects crystal growth. These facts indicate that the classical theories of crystallization need critical modifications by considering local ordering effects. Our findings provide fresh insight into the physical control of GFA of metallic alloys and the switching speed of phase- change materials without relying on experience.

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