Due to their exceptionally high yield strength and yield strain as compared to conventional metallic materials, bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) represent a class of promising engineering materials for structural applications. However, inhomogeneous deformation and severe shear localization at ambient temperature often lead to early failure and limit their reliability as structural materials. Heat treatments around the glass transition temperature (Tg) generally aggravate the intrinsic brittleness of BMGs. In this paper, we report on the evolution of a nanoscale inhomogeneous microstructure upon low-temperature annealing in a Zr55Cu30Al10Ni5 BMG. This important outcome is explained by the experimentally observed tendency for chemical decomposition between Cu and Zr of the investigated amorphous system and is in accordance with literature data on various Zr-Cu-based amorphous alloys. Finally, these local fluctuations influence the plasticity of BMGs beneficially, in contrast of the generally accepted embrittlement upon annealing. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
- Heat treatment
- Metallic glass