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Nat Mater. 2011 Jun;10(6):439-42. doi: 10.1038/nmat3024.

Local elastic properties of a metallic glass.

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Physikalisches Institut, Universität Göttingen, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany.


The nature of non-crystalline materials causes the local potential energy of a cluster of atoms or molecules to vary significantly in space. Different configurations of an ensemble of atoms in a metallic glass lead therefore to a distribution of elastic constants which also changes in space. This is totally different to their crystalline counterparts, where a long-range order exists in space and therefore a much more unified elastic modulus is expected. Using atomic force acoustic microscopy, we present data which show that the local so-called indentation modulus M indeed exhibits a wide distribution on a scale below 10 nm in amorphous PdCuSi, with ΔM/M≈30%. About 10(4) atoms are probed in an individual measurement. Crystallized PdCuSi shows a variation that is 10-30 times smaller and which is determined by the resolution of the microscope and by the polycrystalline structure of the material.


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