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Nat Mater. 2004 Oct;3(10):697-702. Epub 2004 Sep 19.

A structural model for metallic glasses.

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Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio 45433, USA.


Despite the intense interest in metallic glasses for a variety of engineering applications, many details of their structure remain a mystery. Here, we present the first compelling atomic structural model for metallic glasses. This structural model is based on a new sphere-packing scheme-the dense packing of atomic clusters. Random positioning of solvent atoms and medium-range atomic order of solute atoms are combined to reproduce diffraction data successfully over radial distances up to approximately 1 nm. Although metallic glasses can have any number of chemically distinct solute species, this model shows that they contain no more than three topologically distinct solutes and that these solutes have specific and predictable sizes relative to the solvent atoms. Finally, this model includes defects that provide richness to the structural description of metallic glasses. The model accurately predicts the number of solute atoms in the first coordination shell of a typical solvent atom, and provides a remarkable ability to predict metallic-glass compositions accurately for a wide range of simple and complex alloys.

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