Drastic influence of minor Fe or Co additions on the glass forming ability, martensitic transformations and mechanical properties of shape memory Zr–Cu–Al bulk metallic glass composites

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Abstract

The microstructure and mechanical properties of Zr48Cu48 − xAl4Mx (M ≡Fe or Co, x = 0, 0.5, 1 at.%) metallic glass (MG) composites are highly dependent on the amount of Fe or Co added as microalloying elements in the parent Zr48Cu48Al4 material. Addition of Fe and Co promotes the transformation from austenite to martensite during the course of nanoindentation or compression experiments, resulting in an enhancement of plasticity. However, the presence of Fe or Co also reduces the glass forming ability, ultimately causing a worsening of the mechanical properties. Owing to the interplay between these two effects, the compressive plasticity for alloys with x = 0.5 (Zr48Cu47.5Al4Co0.5 and in Zr48Cu47.5Al4Fe0.5) is considerably larger than for Zr48Cu48Al4 or the alloys with x = 1. Slight variations in the Young’s modulus and significant changes in the yield stress are also observed depending on the composition. The different microstructural factors that have an influence on the mechanical behaviour of these composites are investigated in detail: (i) coexistence of amorphous and crystalline phases in the as-cast state, (ii) nature of the crystalline phases (austenite versus martensite content), and (iii) propensity for the austenite to undergo a mechanically-driven martensitic transformation during plastic deformation.

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