Atomic vibration as an indicator of the propensity for configurational rearrangements in metallic glasses

HY Fan and Z Fan and XJ Liu and ZP Lu and E Ma, MATERIALS HORIZONS, 8, 2359-2372 (2021).

DOI: 10.1039/d1mh00491c

In a metallic glass (MG), the propensity for atomic rearrangements varies spatially from location to location in the amorphous solid, making the prediction of their likelihood a major challenge. One can attack this problem from the "structure controls properties" standpoint. But all the current structure-centric parameters are mostly based on local atomic packing information limited to short-range order, hence falling short in reliably forecasting how the local region would respond to external stimuli (e.g., temperature and/or stress). Alternatively, one can use indicators informed by physical properties to bridge the static structure on the one hand, and the response of the local configuration on the other. A sub-group of such physics-informed quantities consists of atomic vibration parameters, which will be singled out as the focus of this article. Here we use the Cu64Zr36 alloy to systematically demonstrate the following two points, all using a single model MG. First, we show in a comprehensive manner the interrelation among common vibrational parameters characterizing the atomic vibrational amplitude and frequency, including the atomic mean square displacement, flexibility volume, participation fraction in the low-frequency vibrational modes and boson peak intensity. Second, we demonstrate that these vibrational parameters fare much better than purely static structural parameters based on local geometrical packing in providing correlation with the propensity for local configurational transitions. These vibrational parameters also share a correlation length similar to that in structural rearrangements induced by external stimuli. This success, however, also poses a challenge, as it remains to be elucidated as to why short-time dynamical (vibrational) behavior at the bottom of the energy basin can be exploited to project the height of the energy barrier for cross-basin activities and in turn the propensity for locally collective atomic rearrangements.

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