Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Amorphous metal

Amorphous metal

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Amorphous metal'
Start a new discussion about 'Amorphous metal'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
An amorphous metal is a metal
Metal
A metal , is an element, compound, or alloy that is a good conductor of both electricity and heat. Metals are usually malleable and shiny, that is they reflect most of incident light...

lic material with a disordered atomic-scale structure. In contrast to most metals, which are crystal
Crystal
A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituent atoms, molecules, or ions are arranged in an orderly repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. The scientific study of crystals and crystal formation is known as crystallography...

line and therefore have a highly ordered arrangement of atom
Atom
The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...

s, amorphous
Amorphous solid
In condensed matter physics, an amorphous or non-crystalline solid is a solid that lacks the long-range order characteristic of a crystal....

 alloys are non-crystalline. Materials in which such a disordered structure is produced directly from the liquid state during cooling are called "glass
Glass
Glass is an amorphous solid material. Glasses are typically brittle and optically transparent.The most familiar type of glass, used for centuries in windows and drinking vessels, is soda-lime glass, composed of about 75% silica plus Na2O, CaO, and several minor additives...

es", and so amorphous metals are commonly referred to as "metallic glasses" or "glassy metals". However, there are several ways besides extremely rapid cooling in which amorphous metals can be produced, including physical vapor deposition
Physical vapor deposition
Physical vapor deposition is a variety of vacuum deposition and is a general term used to describe any of a variety of methods to deposit thin films by the condensation of a vaporized form of the desired film material onto various workpiece surfaces...

, solid-state reaction, ion irradiation, and mechanical alloying
Mechanical alloying
Mechanical alloying is a solid-state powder processing technique involving repeated cold welding, fracturing, and re-welding of powder particles in a high-energy ball mill...

. Some scientists do not consider amorphous metals produced by these techniques to be glasses. However, materials scientists
Materials science
Materials science is an interdisciplinary field applying the properties of matter to various areas of science and engineering. This scientific field investigates the relationship between the structure of materials at atomic or molecular scales and their macroscopic properties. It incorporates...

 commonly consider amorphous alloys to be a single class of materials, regardless of how they are prepared.

In the past, small batches of amorphous metals have been produced through a variety of quick-cooling methods. For instance, amorphous metal wires have been produced by sputtering molten metal onto a spinning metal disk (melt spinning
Melt spinning
Melt spinning is a technique used for rapid cooling of liquids. A wheel is cooled internally, usually by water or liquid nitrogen, and rotated. A thin stream of liquid is then dripped onto the wheel and cooled, causing rapid solidification. This technique is used to develop materials that require...

). The rapid cooling, on the order of millions of degrees a second, is too fast for crystals to form and the material is "locked in" a glassy state. More recently a number of alloys with critical cooling rates low enough to allow formation of amorphous structure in thick layers (over 1 millimeter) had been produced; these are known as bulk metallic glasses (BMG). Liquidmetal
Liquidmetal
Liquidmetal and Vitreloy are commercial names of a series of amorphous metal alloys developed by a California Institute of Technology research team, now marketed by a firm that the team organized called Liquidmetal Technologies. Despite the name they are not liquid, but solid at room temperature,...

 sells a number of titanium-based BMGs, developed in studies originally carried out at Caltech. More recently, batches of amorphous steel have been produced that demonstrate strengths much greater than conventional steel alloys.

History


The first reported metallic glass was an alloy
Alloy
An alloy is a mixture or metallic solid solution composed of two or more elements. Complete solid solution alloys give single solid phase microstructure, while partial solutions give two or more phases that may or may not be homogeneous in distribution, depending on thermal history...

 (Au75Si25) produced at Caltech by W. Klement (Jr.), Willens and Duwez
Pol Duwez
Pol Duwez was a Belgian-born materials scientist. While working at Caltech, he first introduced metallic glasses made through rapid liquid cooling....

 in 1960. This and other early glass-forming alloys had to be cooled extremely rapidly (on the order of one megakelvin
Kelvin
The kelvin is a unit of measurement for temperature. It is one of the seven base units in the International System of Units and is assigned the unit symbol K. The Kelvin scale is an absolute, thermodynamic temperature scale using as its null point absolute zero, the temperature at which all...

 per second, 106 K/s) to avoid crystallization. An important consequence of this was that metallic glasses could only be produced in a limited number of forms (typically ribbons, foils, or wires) in which one dimension was small so that heat could be extracted quickly enough to achieve the necessary cooling rate. As a result, metallic glass specimens (with a few exceptions) were limited to thicknesses of less than one hundred micrometers
Micrometre
A micrometer , is by definition 1×10-6 of a meter .In plain English, it means one-millionth of a meter . Its unit symbol in the International System of Units is μm...

.

In 1969, an alloy of 77.5% palladium
Palladium
Palladium is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pd and an atomic number of 46. It is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston. He named it after the asteroid Pallas, which was itself named after the epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, acquired...

, 6% copper, and 16.5% silicon was found to have critical cooling rate between 100 to 1000 K/s.

In 1976, H. Liebermann and C. Graham developed a new method of manufacturing thin ribbons of amorphous metal on a supercooled fast-spinning wheel
Melt spinning
Melt spinning is a technique used for rapid cooling of liquids. A wheel is cooled internally, usually by water or liquid nitrogen, and rotated. A thin stream of liquid is then dripped onto the wheel and cooled, causing rapid solidification. This technique is used to develop materials that require...

. This was an alloy of iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

, nickel
Nickel
Nickel is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Ni and atomic number 28. It is a silvery-white lustrous metal with a slight golden tinge. Nickel belongs to the transition metals and is hard and ductile...

, phosphorus
Phosphorus
Phosphorus is the chemical element that has the symbol P and atomic number 15. A multivalent nonmetal of the nitrogen group, phosphorus as a mineral is almost always present in its maximally oxidized state, as inorganic phosphate rocks...

 and boron
Boron
Boron is the chemical element with atomic number 5 and the chemical symbol B. Boron is a metalloid. Because boron is not produced by stellar nucleosynthesis, it is a low-abundance element in both the solar system and the Earth's crust. However, boron is concentrated on Earth by the...

. The material, known as Metglas, was commercialized in early 1980s and used for low-loss power distribution transformers (Amorphous metal transformer
Amorphous metal transformer
Amorphous Metal Transformer is a type of energy efficient transformer found on electric grids. The magnetic core of this transformer is made with amorphous metal , which is easily magnetized / demagnetized. Typically, core loss can be 70–80% less than its traditional counterpart...

). Metglas-2605 is composed of 80% iron and 20% boron, has Curie temperature of and a room temperature saturation magnetization of 1.56 teslas
Tesla (unit)
The tesla is the SI derived unit of magnetic field B . One tesla is equal to one weber per square meter, and it was defined in 1960 in honour of the inventor, physicist, and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla...

.

In the early 1980s, glassy ingots with diameter were produced from the alloy of 55% palladium, 22.5% lead, and 22.5% antimony, by surface etching followed with heating-cooling cycles. Using boron oxide flux
Flux (metallurgy)
In metallurgy, a flux , is a chemical cleaning agent, flowing agent, or purifying agent. Fluxes may have more than one function at a time...

, the achievable thickness was increased to a centimeter.

The research in Tohoku University
Tohoku University
, abbreviated to , located in the city of Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture in the Tōhoku Region, Japan, is a Japanese national university. It is the third oldest Imperial University in Japan and is a member of the National Seven Universities...

 and Caltech yielded multicomponent alloys based on lanthanum, magnesium, zirconium, palladium, iron, copper, and titanium, with critical cooling rate between 1 K/s to 100 K/s, comparable to oxide glasses.

In 1988, alloys of lanthanum, aluminium, and copper ore were found to be highly glass-forming.

In the 1990s, however, new alloys were developed that form glasses at cooling rates as low as one kelvin per second. These cooling rates can be achieved by simple casting into metallic molds. These "bulk" amorphous alloys can be cast into parts of up to several centimeters in thickness (the maximum thickness depending on the alloy) while retaining an amorphous structure. The best glass-forming alloys are based on zirconium
Zirconium
Zirconium is a chemical element with the symbol Zr and atomic number 40. The name of zirconium is taken from the mineral zircon. Its atomic mass is 91.224. It is a lustrous, grey-white, strong transition metal that resembles titanium...

 and palladium
Palladium
Palladium is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pd and an atomic number of 46. It is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston. He named it after the asteroid Pallas, which was itself named after the epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, acquired...

, but alloys based on iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

, titanium
Titanium
Titanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ti and atomic number 22. It has a low density and is a strong, lustrous, corrosion-resistant transition metal with a silver color....

, copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

, magnesium
Magnesium
Magnesium is a chemical element with the symbol Mg, atomic number 12, and common oxidation number +2. It is an alkaline earth metal and the eighth most abundant element in the Earth's crust and ninth in the known universe as a whole...

, and other metals are also known. Many amorphous alloys are formed by exploiting a phenomenon called the "confusion" effect. Such alloys contain so many different elements (often four or more) that upon cooling at sufficiently fast rates, the constituent atoms simply cannot coordinate themselves into the equilibrium crystalline state before their mobility is stopped. In this way, the random disordered state of the atoms is "locked in".

In 1992, the first commercial amorphous alloy, Vitreloy 1 (41.2% Zr, 13.8% Ti, 12.5% Cu, 10% Ni, and 22.5% Be), was developed at Caltech, as a part of Department of Energy
United States Department of Energy
The United States Department of Energy is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government concerned with the United States' policies regarding energy and safety in handling nuclear material...

 and NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 research of new aerospace materials. More variants followed.

In 2004, two groups succeeded in producing bulk amorphous steel, one at Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a multiprogram science and technology national laboratory managed for the United States Department of Energy by UT-Battelle. ORNL is the DOE's largest science and energy laboratory. ORNL is located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, near Knoxville...

, the other at University of Virginia
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is a public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, founded by Thomas Jefferson...

. The Oak Ridge group refers to their product as "glassy steel". The product is non-magnetic at room temperature
Room temperature
-Comfort levels:The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers has listings for suggested temperatures and air flow rates in different types of buildings and different environmental circumstances. For example, a single office in a building has an occupancy ratio per...

 and significantly stronger than conventional steel, though a long research and development process remains before the introduction of the material into public or military use.

Properties


Amorphous metal is usually an alloy
Alloy
An alloy is a mixture or metallic solid solution composed of two or more elements. Complete solid solution alloys give single solid phase microstructure, while partial solutions give two or more phases that may or may not be homogeneous in distribution, depending on thermal history...

 rather than a pure metal. The alloys contain atoms of significantly different sizes, leading to low free volume (and therefore up to orders of magnitude higher viscosity than other metals and alloys) in molten state. The viscosity prevents the atoms moving enough to form an ordered lattice. The material structure also results in low shrinkage during cooling, and resistance to plastic deformation. The absence of grain boundaries
Grain boundary
A grain boundary is the interface between two grains, or crystallites, in a polycrystalline material. Grain boundaries are defects in the crystal structure, and tend to decrease the electrical and thermal conductivity of the material...

, the weak spots of crystalline materials, leads to better resistance to wear
Wear
In materials science, wear is erosion or sideways displacement of material from its "derivative" and original position on a solid surface performed by the action of another surface....

 and corrosion
Corrosion
Corrosion is the disintegration of an engineered material into its constituent atoms due to chemical reactions with its surroundings. In the most common use of the word, this means electrochemical oxidation of metals in reaction with an oxidant such as oxygen...

. Amorphous metals, while technically glasses, are also much tougher
Toughness
In materials science and metallurgy, toughness is the ability of a material to absorb energy and plastically deform without fracturing; Material toughness is defined as the amount of energy per volume that a material can absorb before rupturing...

 and less brittle than oxide glasses and ceramics.

Thermal conductivity of amorphous materials is lower than that of crystals. As formation of amorphous structure relies on fast cooling, this limits the maximum achievable thickness of amorphous structures.

To achieve formation of amorphous structure even during slower cooling, the alloy has to be made of three or more components, leading to complex crystal units with higher potential energy and lower chance of formation. The atomic radius
Atomic radius
The atomic radius of a chemical element is a measure of the size of its atoms, usually the mean or typical distance from the nucleus to the boundary of the surrounding cloud of electrons...

 of the components has to be significantly different (over 12%), to achieve high packing density and low free volume. The combination of components should have negative heat of mixing, inhibiting crystal nucleation and prolongs the time the molten metal stays in supercooled state.

The alloys of boron
Boron
Boron is the chemical element with atomic number 5 and the chemical symbol B. Boron is a metalloid. Because boron is not produced by stellar nucleosynthesis, it is a low-abundance element in both the solar system and the Earth's crust. However, boron is concentrated on Earth by the...

, silicon
Silicon
Silicon is a chemical element with the symbol Si and atomic number 14. A tetravalent metalloid, it is less reactive than its chemical analog carbon, the nonmetal directly above it in the periodic table, but more reactive than germanium, the metalloid directly below it in the table...

, phosphorus
Phosphorus
Phosphorus is the chemical element that has the symbol P and atomic number 15. A multivalent nonmetal of the nitrogen group, phosphorus as a mineral is almost always present in its maximally oxidized state, as inorganic phosphate rocks...

, and other glass formers with magnetic metals (iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

, cobalt
Cobalt
Cobalt is a chemical element with symbol Co and atomic number 27. It is found naturally only in chemically combined form. The free element, produced by reductive smelting, is a hard, lustrous, silver-gray metal....

, nickel
Nickel
Nickel is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Ni and atomic number 28. It is a silvery-white lustrous metal with a slight golden tinge. Nickel belongs to the transition metals and is hard and ductile...

) are magnetic, with low coercivity
Coercivity
In materials science, the coercivity, also called the coercive field or coercive force, of a ferromagnetic material is the intensity of the applied magnetic field required to reduce the magnetization of that material to zero after the magnetization of the sample has been driven to saturation...

 and high electrical resistance
Electrical resistance
The electrical resistance of an electrical element is the opposition to the passage of an electric current through that element; the inverse quantity is electrical conductance, the ease at which an electric current passes. Electrical resistance shares some conceptual parallels with the mechanical...

. The high resistance leads to low losses by eddy current
Eddy current
Eddy currents are electric currents induced in conductors when a conductor is exposed to a changing magnetic field; due to relative motion of the field source and conductor or due to variations of the field with time. This can cause a circulating flow of electrons, or current, within the body of...

s when subjected to alternating magnetic fields, a property useful for e.g. transformer
Transformer
A transformer is a device that transfers electrical energy from one circuit to another through inductively coupled conductors—the transformer's coils. A varying current in the first or primary winding creates a varying magnetic flux in the transformer's core and thus a varying magnetic field...

 magnetic core
Magnetic core
A magnetic core is a piece of magnetic material with a high permeability used to confine and guide magnetic fields in electrical, electromechanical and magnetic devices such as electromagnets, transformers, electric motors, inductors and magnetic assemblies. It is made of ferromagnetic metal such...

s.

Amorphous alloys have a variety of potentially useful properties. In particular, they tend to be stronger than crystalline alloys of similar chemical composition, and they can sustain larger reversible ("elastic") deformations than crystalline alloys. Amorphous metals derive their strength directly from their non-crystalline structure, which does not have any of the defects (such as dislocations) that limit the strength of crystalline alloys. One modern amorphous metal, known as Vitreloy, has a tensile strength that is almost twice that of high-grade titanium
Titanium
Titanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ti and atomic number 22. It has a low density and is a strong, lustrous, corrosion-resistant transition metal with a silver color....

. However, metallic glasses at room temperature are not ductile and tend to fail suddenly when loaded in tension
Tension (mechanics)
In physics, tension is the magnitude of the pulling force exerted by a string, cable, chain, or similar object on another object. It is the opposite of compression. As tension is the magnitude of a force, it is measured in newtons and is always measured parallel to the string on which it applies...

, which limits the material applicability in reliability-critical applications, as the impending failure is not evident. Therefore, there is considerable interest in producing metal matrix composite
Metal matrix composite
A metal matrix composite is composite material with at least two constituent parts, one being a metal. The other material may be a different metal or another material, such as a ceramic or organic compound. When at least three materials are present, it is called a hybrid composite...

 materials consisting of a metallic glass matrix containing dendritic particles or fibers of a ductile crystalline metal.

Perhaps the most useful property of bulk amorphous alloys is that they are true glasses, which means that they soften and flow upon heating. This allows for easy processing, such as by injection molding
Injection molding
Injection molding is a manufacturing process for producing parts from both thermoplastic and thermosetting plastic materials. Material is fed into a heated barrel, mixed, and forced into a mold cavity where it cools and hardens to the configuration of the cavity...

, in much the same way as polymers. As a result, amorphous alloys have been commercialized for use in sports equipment, medical devices, and as cases for electronic equipment.

Thin films of amorphous metals can be deposited via high velocity oxygen fuel technique as protective coatings.

Applications


Amorphous metals (metallic glasses) exhibit unique softening behavior above their glass transition and this softening has been increasingly explored for thermoplastic forming of metallic glasses.

It has been shown that metallic glasses can be patterned on extremely small length scales ranging from 10 nm to several millimeters. It has been suggested that this may solve the problems of nanoimprint lithography where expensive nano-molds made of silicon break easily. Nano-molds made from metallic glasses are easy to fabricate and more durable than silicon molds.

Ti40Cu36Pd14Zr10 is believed to be noncarcinogenic, is about three times stronger than titanium, and its elastic modulus
Elastic modulus
An elastic modulus, or modulus of elasticity, is the mathematical description of an object or substance's tendency to be deformed elastically when a force is applied to it...

 nearly matches bone
Bone
Bones are rigid organs that constitute part of the endoskeleton of vertebrates. They support, and protect the various organs of the body, produce red and white blood cells and store minerals. Bone tissue is a type of dense connective tissue...

s. It has a high wear resistance and does not produce abrasion powder. The alloy does not undergo shrinkage on solidification. A surface structure can be generated that is biologically attachable by surface modification using laser pulses, allowing better joining with bone.

Mg60Zn35Ca5, rapidly cooled to achieve amorphous structure, is being investigated as a biomaterial
Biomaterial
A biomaterial is any matter, surface, or construct that interacts with biological systems. The development of biomaterials, as a science, is about fifty years old. The study of biomaterials is called biomaterials science. It has experienced steady and strong growth over its history, with many...

 for implantation into bone
Bone
Bones are rigid organs that constitute part of the endoskeleton of vertebrates. They support, and protect the various organs of the body, produce red and white blood cells and store minerals. Bone tissue is a type of dense connective tissue...

s as screws, pins, or plates, to fix fractures. Unlike traditional steel or titanium, this material dissolves in organisms at a rate of roughly 1 millimeter per month and is replaced with bone tissue. This speed can be adjusted by varying the content of zinc.

Currently the most important application is due to the special magnetic properties of some amorphous glasses. The low magnetization loss is used in high efficiency transformers (Amorphous metal transformer
Amorphous metal transformer
Amorphous Metal Transformer is a type of energy efficient transformer found on electric grids. The magnetic core of this transformer is made with amorphous metal , which is easily magnetized / demagnetized. Typically, core loss can be 70–80% less than its traditional counterpart...

) at line frequency and some higher frequency transformers. Also Electronic article surveillance
Electronic article surveillance
Electronic article surveillance is a technological method for preventing shoplifting from retail stores or pilferage of books from libraries. Special tags are fixed to merchandise or books. These tags are removed or deactivated by the clerks when the item is properly bought or checked out...

 often use metallic glasses.

External links


See also

  • Glass-ceramic-to-metal seals
    Glass-ceramic-to-metal seals
    Glass-to-metal seals have been around for many years, with one of the most common uses being lamp bulb seals. A more recent invention is glass-ceramic-to-metal seals.-Properties:...

  • Materials science
    Materials science
    Materials science is an interdisciplinary field applying the properties of matter to various areas of science and engineering. This scientific field investigates the relationship between the structure of materials at atomic or molecular scales and their macroscopic properties. It incorporates...

  • Bioabsorbable metallic glass
    Bioabsorbable metallic glass
    Bioabsorbable or bioresorbable metallic glass refers to a class of bulk metallic glass, which is based on magnesium. Research is underway to assess its feasibility for use as a biomaterial, specifically for orthopedic screws and fixation devices. The most well known publication, by a group of Swiss...