Direct observation of nanocrystal-induced enhancement of tensile ductility in a metallic glass composite
Bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) have attracted wide interest, but their successful application is hindered by their low ductility at room temperature. Therefore, the use of composites of a BMG matrix with crystalline secondary phases has been proposed to overcome this drawback. In the present work we demonstrate the fabrication of a tailored BMG nanocomposite containing a high density of monodisperse nanocrystals with a size of around 20 nm using a combination of mechanical and thermal treatment of Cu36Zr48Al8Ag8 well below the crystallization temperature. Direct observations of the interaction of the nanocrystals with a shear band during in situ deformation in a transmission electron microscope demonstrate that the achieved nanocomposite has the potential to inhibit catastrophic fracture in tension. This demonstrates that a sufficient number of nanoscale structural heterogeneities can be a route towards BMG composites with superior mechanical properties.