Nanometer Scale Atomic Structure of Zirconium Based Bulk Metallic Glass
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We have studied the nanometer scale structure of bulk metallic glass (BMG) using fluctuation electron microscopy (FEM). The nanometer scale medium range order (MRO) in BMG is of significant interest because of its possible relationship to the properties, but the experimental study of the MRO is difficult because conventional diffraction techniques are not sensitive to the MRO scale. FEM is a quantitative transmission electron microscopy technique which measures the nanoscale structural fluctuation associated with MRO in amorphous materials, and provides information about the size, distribution, and internal structure of MRO. In this work, we developed an improved method for FEM using energy-filtered STEM nanodiffraction with highly coherent probes with size up to 11nm in a state-of-the-art Cs-corrected STEM. We also developed an effective way to eliminate the effect of sample thickness variation to the FEM data by using Z-contrast images as references. To study the detailed structure of MRO, we developed a hybrid reverse Monte Carlo (H-RMC) simulation which combines an empirical atomic potential and the FEM data. H-RMC generated model structures that match the experimental data at short and medium range. In addition, the subtle rotational symmetries in the FEM nanodiffraction patterns were analyzed by angular correlation function to reveal more details of the internal structure of MRO. Our experiments and simulations show that Zr-based BMG contains pseudo-planar, crystal-like MRO as well as icosahedral clusters in its nanoscale structure. We found that some icosahedral clusters may be connected, and that structural relaxation by annealing increases the population of icosahedral clusters.
medium range order
fluctuation electron microscopy