© 2017 American Chemical Society. In this paper, the amorphous Ce68Al10Cu20Co2 (atom %) alloy was in situ prepared by nanocalorimetry. The high cooling and heating rates accessible with this technique facilitate the suppression of crystallization on cooling and the identification of homogeneous nucleation. Different from the generally accepted notion that metallic glasses form just by avoiding crystallization, the role of nucleation and growth in the crystallization behavior of amorphous alloys is specified, allowing an access to the ideal metallic glass free of nuclei. Local atomic configurations are fundamentally significant to unravel the glass forming ability (GFA) and phase transitions in metallic glasses. For this reason, isothermal annealing near Tg from 0.001 s to 25,000 s following quenching becomes the strategy to tune local atomic configurations and facilitate an amorphous alloy, a mixed glassy-nanocrystalline state, and a crystalline sample successively. On the basis of the evolution of crystallization enthalpy and overall latent heat on reheating, we quantify the underlying mechanism for the isothermal nucleation and crystallization of amorphous alloys. With Johnson-Mehl-Avrami method, it is demonstrated that the coexistence of homogeneous and heterogeneous nucleation contributes to the isothermal crystallization of glass. Heterogeneous rather than homogeneous nucleation dominates the isothermal crystallization of the undercooled liquid. For the mixed glassy-nanocrystalline structure, an extraordinary kinetic stability of the residual glass is validated, which is ascribed to the denser packed interface between amorphous phase and ordered nanocrystals. Tailoring the amorphous structure by nanocalorimetry permits new insights into unraveling GFA and the mechanism that correlates local atomic configurations and phase transitions in metallic glasses.
- glass forming ability