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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Toughness of Wear-Resistant Cu-Zr-Based Bulk Metallic Glasses

  • Author(s): Andersen, Laura Michelle
  • Advisor(s): Vecchio, Kenneth S
  • et al.

Bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) have the potential to exhibit exceptional wear-resistance due to their high hardness and strength. Combined with their other unique properties, this makes them ideal candidates for a wide range of technological applications (e.g. gears, bearings, biomaterials). In the course of this dissertation, high-glass-forming bulk metallic glasses are prepared and characterized in order to identify wear-resistant compositions and optimize their toughness. First, a comprehensive study identifies a class of Cu-Zr-based BMGs that exhibit more exceptional wear performance than other BMGs. The results demonstrate that when BMGs are designed properly, they exhibit wear properties that compete with, and can surpass, state-of-the-art engineering materials. It is identified that, in order to optimize the wear performance of Cu-Zr-based BMG gears, toughness should be maximized. Second, the notch toughness of wear-resistant Cu43Zr43Al7Be7 BMGs with in-situ crystallization is investigated. In order to identify in-situ crystallization using X-ray diffraction (XRD) with Cu Kα radiation, extremely long dwell times and high X-ray fluxes are required. This demonstrates the importance of reporting operating parameters when trying to evaluate the amorphous nature of BMGs. XRD, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) and electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) are used to identify the metastable crystalline phase. The notch toughness is found to correlate closely with the amount of crystallization and the composition of the remaining amorphous matrix. Finally, the effect of substituting standard-grade zirconium lump (99.8% excluding up to 4% hafnium) for high-purity zirconium crystal bar (99.5%) in Cu43Zr43Al7Be7 is investigated. Introducing low-purity zirconium significantly decreases the glass-forming-ability and reduces the notch toughness of the BMG. Furthermore, Weibull statistics provide an analysis of the variability in toughness for high-purity ingots synthesized both in a small laboratory arc-melter and synthesized commercially. The dissertation concludes with a summary of key findings that have led to our increase in knowledge and a discussion of particularly pressing directions for future research in this field.

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