Short- and medium-range structure synergistically control fracture toughness of densified aluminoborate glasses

EJ Pedersen and T To and SS Sorensen and R Christensen and JFS Christensen and LR Jensen and M Bockowski and OV Magdysyuk and M Diaz- Lopez and YZ Yue and MM Smedskjaer, PHYSICAL REVIEW MATERIALS, 7, 053607 (2023).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevMaterials.7.053607

Methods to improve the fracture toughness of oxide glasses are needed since low fracture toughness is a major bottleneck for their applications. To overcome this, it is critically important to investigate the effect of both short-and medium-range structural features on fracture toughness. Recent work reported a record-high fracture toughness for a bulk lithium aluminoborate glass subjected to hot compression. Here, we further explore the structural origin of this high fracture toughness by subjecting different alkali aluminoborate glasses to hot compression. Through a combination of x-ray total scattering experiments and atomistic simulations, we find that hot compression causes significant changes to both the short-and medium- range order structure of the glasses, e.g., increased coordination numbers (CNs) of network forming species and decreased average size of ring-type structures. To this end, we reveal positive correlations between the pressure-induced increase in fracture toughness and (i) the increase in average CN of network forming species and (ii) the area of the first sharp diffraction peak in the structure factor. Our study thus improves the understanding of which structural features benefit intrinsic toughening of oxide glasses.

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