Unveiling the mechanism of phase and morphology selections during the devitrification of Al-Sm amorphous ribbon

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Meng, Fanqiang
Sun, Yang
Zhang, Feng
Da, Bo
Wang, Cai-Zhuang
Kramer, Matthew
Ho, Kai-Ming
Sun, Dongbai
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Ames National Laboratory

Ames National Laboratory is a government-owned, contractor-operated national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), operated by and located on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

For more than 70 years, the Ames National Laboratory has successfully partnered with Iowa State University, and is unique among the 17 DOE laboratories in that it is physically located on the campus of a major research university. Many of the scientists and administrators at the Laboratory also hold faculty positions at the University and the Laboratory has access to both undergraduate and graduate student talent.

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Physics and Astronomy
Physics and astronomy are basic natural sciences which attempt to describe and provide an understanding of both our world and our universe. Physics serves as the underpinning of many different disciplines including the other natural sciences and technological areas.
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The complex interplay between energetic and kinetic factors that governs the phase and morphology selections can originate at the earliest stage of crystallization in the amorphous parent phases. Because of the extreme difficulties in capturing the microscopic nucleation process, a detailed picture of how initial disordered structures affect the transformation pathway remains unclear. Here, we report the experimental observation of widely varying phase selection and grain size evolution during the devitrification of a homogeneous melt-spun glassy ribbon. Two different crystalline phases θ−Al5Sm and ɛ−Al60Sm11 are found to form in the different regions of the same metallic glass (MG) ribbon during the devitrification. The grain size of the ɛ−Al60Sm11 phase shows a strong spatial heterogeneity. The coarse-grained ɛ−Al60Sm11 phase coupled with the small volume fraction of the θ−Al5Sm phase is preferably formed close to the wheel side of the melt-spun ribbon. Combining experimental characterization and computational simulations, we show that phase selection and microstructure evolution can be traced back to different types and populations of atomic clusters that serve as precursors for the nucleation of different crystalline phases. Inhomogeneous cooling rates cause different structure orders across the glass sample during the quenching process. Our findings provide direct insight into the effect of structural order on the crystallization pathways during the devitrification of MG. It also opens an avenue to study the detailed nucleation process at the atomic level using the MG as a platform and suggests the opportunity of microstructure and property design via controlling the cooling process.

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