Uncovering metallic glasses hidden vacancy-like motifs using machine learning

SY Yuan and AY Liang and C Liu and A Nakano and K Nomura and PS Branicio, MATERIALS & DESIGN, 233, 112185 (2023).

DOI: 10.1016/j.matdes.2023.112185

Vacancies are a ubiquitous type of defect in crystalline materials that can affect their properties and behavior, including atomic diffusivity, deformation processes, thermal conductivity, and electrical conductivity. While well-defined in crystals, it is challenging to identify such topological footprints in the amorphous structure of metallic glasses (MGs). Here, we uncover an unforeseen vacancy-like structural motif named Q7, which refers to an atomic Voronoi polyhedron with seven quadrangular faces, by investigating MG local atomic configurations with the help of machine learning. The Q7 motif exhibits characteristics similar to crystalline vacancies and plays a significant role in short-range structural disorder in MGs. The atoms at the center of the Q7 motif display larger local entropy, atomic volume, and local tension. Additionally, its concentration follows an Arrhenius-like rela- tionship with temperature, accurately indicating the glass transition temperature, and is strongly correlated with the yield and failure of MGs during mechanical deformation. The discovery of the Q7 motif provides new insights into understanding the intricate relationship between local disorder and structural relaxation in MGs, offering a remarkable ability to predict their thermal and mechanical behavior. This potentially paves the way for en-hancements in the design and manufacturing processes of MGs and other amorphous materials.

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