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Published May 13, 2011 | public
Journal Article

Beating Crystallization in Glass-Forming Metals by Millisecond Heating and Processing


The development of metal alloys that form glasses at modest cooling rates has stimulated broad scientific and technological interest. However, intervening crystallization of the liquid in even the most robust bulk metallic glass-formers is orders of magnitude faster than in many common polymers and silicate glass-forming liquids. Crystallization limits experimental studies of the undercooled liquid and hampers efforts to plastically process metallic glasses. We have developed a method to rapidly and uniformly heat a metallic glass at rates of 10^6 kelvin per second to temperatures spanning the undercooled liquid region. Liquid properties are subsequently measured on millisecond time scales at previously inaccessible temperatures under near-adiabatic conditions. Rapid thermoplastic forming of the undercooled liquid into complex net shapes is implemented under rheological conditions typically used in molding of plastics. By operating in the millisecond regime, we are able to "beat" the intervening crystallization and successfully process even marginal glass-forming alloys with very limited stability against crystallization that are not processable by conventional heating.

Additional Information

© 2011 American Association for the Advancement of Science. Received for publication 7 December 2010; accepted 1 April 2011. The authors acknowledge partial support by the II-VI Foundation, the assistance of R. Overstreet with the thermal imaging unit, and useful discussions with M. A. Nicolet. A patent filed by the California Institute of Technology is currently pending. The U.S. patent application number is US2009/0236017 A1.

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