On the question of fractal packing structure in metallic glasses.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1705723114
This work addresses the long-standing debate over fractal models of packing structure in metallic glasses (MGs). Through detailed fractal and percolation analyses of MG structures, derived from simulations spanning a range of compositions and quenching rates, we conclude that there is no fractal atomic-level structure associated with the packing of all atoms or solute-centered clusters. The results are in contradiction with conclusions derived from previous studies based on analyses of shifts in radial distribution function and structure factor peaks associated with volume changes induced by pressure and compositional variations. The interpretation of such shifts is shown to be challenged by the heterogeneous nature of MG structure and deformation at the atomic scale. Moreover, our analysis in the present work illustrates clearly the percolation theory applied to MGs, for example, the percolation threshold and characteristics of percolation clusters formed by subsets of atoms, which can have important consequences for structure-property relationships in these amorphous materials.