The first stages of thermal relaxation towards equilibrium in a Zr57Ti5Cu20Al10Ni8 bulk metallic glass have been studied by differential scanning calorimetry, X-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy and high-resolution electron microscopy. These coupled experiments rule out for this glass the existence of a phase separation on the nanometric scale preceding the onset of crystallization. The first step of crystallization is of the primary type, that is it consists of the nucleation of nanocrystallites in the amorphous matrix with which they coexist in metastable equilibrium. The very high nucleation rate leads to a nanometric composite structure with a number density of about 7 × 1024 m-3 of 3-4 nm crystallites, occupying a volume fraction of about 15%. These features, as well as the crystallization kinetics observed during isochronal or isothermal heating, are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Condensed Matter Physics