Structural rearrangements governing Johari-Goldstein relaxations in metallic glasses

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Science Advances  17 Nov 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 11, e1701577
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701577


The Johari-Goldstein secondary (β) relaxations are an intrinsic feature of supercooled liquids and glasses. They are crucial to many properties of glassy materials, but the underlying mechanisms are still not established. In a model metallic glass, we study the atomic rearrangements by molecular dynamics simulations at time scales of up to microseconds. We find that the distributions of single-particle displacements exhibit multiple peaks, whose positions quantitatively match the pair distribution function. These are identified as the structural signature of cooperative string-like excitations. Furthermore, the most probable time of the string-like motions coincides with the β-relaxation time as probed by dynamical mechanical simulations over a wide temperature range and is consistent with a theoretical model. Our results provide insights into the long-standing puzzle regarding the structural origin of β relaxations in glassy metallic materials.

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