Long-Range Topological Order in Metallic Glass

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Science  17 Jun 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6036, pp. 1404-1406
DOI: 10.1126/science.1200324

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Glass lacks the long-range periodic order that characterizes a crystal. In the Ce75Al25 metallic glass (MG), however, we discovered a long-range topological order corresponding to a single crystal of indefinite length. Structural examinations confirm that the MG is truly amorphous, isotropic, and unstrained, yet under 25 gigapascals hydrostatic pressures, every segment of a centimeter-length MG ribbon devitrifies independently into a face-centered cubic (fcc) crystal with the identical orientation. By using molecular dynamics simulations and synchrotron x-ray techniques, we elucidate that the mismatch between the large Ce and small Al atoms frustrates the crystallization and causes amorphization, but a long-range fcc topological order still exists. Pressure induces electronic transition in Ce, which eliminates the mismatch and manifests the topological order by the formation of a single crystal.

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