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"High-temperature Bulk Metallic Glasses Developed by Combinatorial Methods" Selected among China's Top 10 Scientific Advances of 2019

Date:27-02-2020 Print

On February 27, the High Tech Research and Development Center (Administrative Center for Basic Research) of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) of China released China's Top 10 Scientific Advances of 2019. The research "High-temperature Bulk Metallic Glasses Developed by Combinatorial Methods" made by the Institute of Physics (IOP) of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)/Beijing National Laboratory for Condensed Matter Physics (hereinafter referred to as IOP) is on the list.

The selection process goes from recommendation, to primary selection and to final selection. The selection event is jointly organized by the editorial offices of China Basic Science, Science & Technology Review, Bulletin of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Science Foundation in China and Chinese Science Bulletin. They invited experts to select 30 scientific advances out of all the recommended ones, and the 10 of them getting the most votes were finally selected as China's Top 10 Scientific Advances of 2019. The selection events which have been going on for fifteen years have great significance in terms of publicizing major scientific advances in basic research in China, stimulating the enthusiasm and dedication of scientific and technological workers, facilitating science popularization, promoting public's understanding, concern and support for basic research, and creating a positive social atmosphere of respecting and promoting science.

The metallic glass features unique disordered atomic structure and excellent mechanical, physical and chemical properties. Widely used in such high-tech fields as energy, communication, aerospace and national defense, it is an important component of modern alloy materials. At temperatures approaching the glass transition, bulk metallic glasses undergo plastic flow, resulting in a substantial decrease in quasi-static strength, and severely limiting its high temperature applications. Bulk metallic glasses with glass transition temperatures greater than 1,000 kelvin have been developed, but the supercooled liquid region (between the glass transition and the crystallization temperature) is narrow, resulting in very little thermoplastic formability, which limits their practical applicability. The key to the above challenges lies in the reasonable design of the forming composition of metallic glass. The discovery of metallic glasses with specific properties has so far largely been the result of trial and error.

The research team led by Liu Yanhui of IOP, together with IOP researcher Wang Weihua and other collaborators, has developed a high-throughput experimental method featuring high efficiency, non-destructive property and easy popularization based on the concept of materials genetic engineering. They designed an Ir-Ni-Ta-(B) Ir–Ni–Ta–(B) bulk metallic glass forming alloy system and obtained the high-temperature bulk metallic glass with a glass transition temperature of up to 1162K. The newly developed metallic glass has extremely high strength at high temperature. Its strength reaches 3.7 GPa at 1000K, far exceeding that of the previously reported bulk metallic glass and traditional high-temperature alloys. The supercooled liquid region of the newly developed metallic glass reaches 136K, wider than most previously reported metallic glasses. In addition, its forming capacity can reach 3mm, making it possible to obtain micro- components for application in high temperature or harsh environment through thermoplastic forming. The high-throughput experimental method developed is strongly practicable. It overturns the "manual regulation" mode of material research and development in the field of metallic glasses in 60 years, confirms the effectiveness and high efficiency of materials genetic engineering in the research and development of new materials, opens up a new way for efficient exploration of new metallic glass materials, and also provides a new idea for the design of new high-temperature and high-performance alloy materials.

The IOP team has long been engaged in the research of amorphous alloys. IOP has set up platforms with such experimental equipment as composite material preparation, materials parallel heat treatment, high-throughput experimental determination of alloy composition, rapid microstructure characterization and resistance measurement based high-throughput experimental methods, and has undertaken national projects such as the Key Research and Development Program under MOST and the project of National Science Foundation for Distinguished Young Scholars under National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC). The IOP team has published more than 300 papers on Science, Nature, Nature Materials and other key journals, with over 3,000 other citations and over 20 licensed patents. The IOP team's achievements in amorphous alloy research were selected among the Top 10 News of Basic Research of China (later renamed Top 10 Scientific Advances) of 2005 and 2007 respectively, and won the Zhou Pei-Yuan Prize in Physics awarded by Chinese Physical Society (CPS) in 2009 and the Second Prize of the State Natural Science Award in 2010 and 2019 respectively.

Diagram of High-temperature Bulk Metallic Glasses Developed by Combinatorial Methods