Combining an impressive array of properties, including extraordinary tensile strength (~2-4 GPa), large elastic deflections (~2% elastic strain), and excellent wear and corrosion resistance, bulk metallic glasses (BMG) have been touted as revolutionary structural materials for more than a decade. Indeed, they have been implemented in a number of "boutique" applications, such as military weapons systems and sporting goods. Recently, focus has turned to BMGs' remarkable ability to be thermoplastically formed into complex shapes easily and inexpensively in the supercooled liquid regime, a capability traditionally limited to low-strength plastics. This combination of both outstanding mechanical properties and ease of processing opens the door for BMGs to truly become the transformational materials they promised to be. However, the lack of long-range atomic order in these alloys both dictates their unique mechanical behavior and processing characteristics and presents a challenge for understanding the relationships among structure, processing, and properties in BMGs within a consistent physical framework.
Metallic glass research at Washington University focuses on understanding the atomic-scale structure of the glasses and glass-forming liquids, the role that this structure plays in glass-forming ability and other emergent properties, and the design of BMG alloys and composites with optimal properties.