Inverted core-shell potential energy landscape of icosahedral clusters in deeply undercooled metallic liquids and glasses and its effect on the glass forming ability of bcc and fcc metals
DH Xu and ZM Wang and TY Chang and FZ Chen, JOURNAL OF PHYSICS-CONDENSED MATTER, 32, 405402 (2020).
Current understanding of the origin of icosahedral clusters or icosahedral short-range ordering in undercooled metallic liquids or glasses is based on Frank's consideration of an isolated icosahedron whose core has lower potential energy than the shell. Using large scale atomistic simulations and statistical analysis of several bcc (body- centered-cubic) and fcc (face-centered-cubic) metals, here we show that the shells of icosahedrons spontaneously formed inside deeply undercooled metallic liquids or glasses in fact have lower (averaged) potential energy than the cores. The shell potential energy deficiency occurs only to the icosahedral clusters but not to the equilibrium- crystal clusters, and, for icosahedral clusters, this deficiency grows with decreasing temperature. Compared with fcc metals, bcc metals exhibit greater potential energy deficiency on the icosahedral shells and produce significantly more icosahedral clusters upon liquid quenching, which explains the higher tendency of bcc metals to be vitrified observed in ultrafast cooling experiments. Inspecting the potential energy deficiency on the icosahedral shells through computation provides a new avenue to the search for amorphous metals (i.e. metallic glasses) with high glass forming ability and processability.
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