Drawing on powerful computational tools and a state-of-the-art scanning transmission electron microscope, a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison and Iowa State University materials science andengineering researchers has discovered a new nanometer-scale atomic structure in solid metallic materials known as metallic glasses.
Publ...ished May 11 in the journal Physical Review Letters, the findings fill a gap in researchers' understanding of this atomic structure. This understanding ultimately could help manufacturers fine-tune such properties of metallic glasses as ductility, the ability to change shape under force without breaking, and formability, the ability to form a glass without crystalizing.
Glasses include all solid materials that have a non-crystalline atomic structure: They lacka regular geometric arrangement of atoms over long distances. "The fundamental nature of a glass structure is that the organization of the atoms is disordered-jumbled up like differently sized marbles in a jar, rather than eggs in an egg carton," says Paul Voyles , a UW-Madison associate professor of materials science and engineering and principal investigator on the research