What is Amorphous Metal?

Amorphous metal can be defined as a metal that is usually an alloy and whose atoms are not arranged in the proper order, the atoms of these types of metals or objects are tightly packed but randomly arranged. Any substance that resembles a glass-like structure, and it is non-crystalline is an amorphous metal.

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Properties of amorphous metals:
  • Usually in most cases, amorphous metal is an alloy; rather than a pure metal. The difference between an alloy and a pure metal is that an alloy constitutes of two elements, one of the element is a metal, the atoms in an alloy are of different sizes.
  • The atomic-scale structure is disordered and of different sizes. This makes it difficult to slide over one another, which is why alloys are much harder. Vitreloy is a modern amorphous metal (non-crystalline) that has a tensile strength which is two times higher than Titanium.
  • It shrinks very less when cooled. Due to the chemical formation and the atomic structure of the alloy, it shrinks very less when cooled.
  • Much tougher than oxide glasses, even though the resemblance might be somewhat same. Since an alloy is made of more than two elements and the atoms are not perfectly arranged, it makes them tougher.
  • Low thermal conductivity than crystalline metal. Again, since the alloy is composed of two elements, it has a different melting point. An alloy can melt over a wide range of temperature.
Difference between amorphous metal and other crystalline metals:

Let's take an experiment to demonstrate the difference between amorphous metal and other crystalline metals:

For this experiment, we take two hollow plastic tubes of identical property and we slide it on top of two metals, one tube on top of each metal, as so it fits properly. One of the metals is our generic stainless steel and the other is Vitreloy. Next, we take two ball bearings made out of stainless steel and we drop the two into the plastic cylinder from the same height.What do you think would happen? The bearing dropped onto the Vitreloy will bounce higher and longer than the stainless steel. If you recall the features we discussed earlier, you would remember that amorphous object has a much smoother surface compared to crystalline metal. As the ball is dropped from a height, potential energy converts into kinetic energy; when the ball collides with the metal; this collision results in the loss of energy.

Energy is furthermore lost as the ball collides with the cylinder and other factors like sound, friction with air, etc. This phenomenon makes the ball bounce lower in the case of stainless steel, as the surface of the stainless steel exerts more friction than the Vitreloy. The other reason why the steel performed in this manner is due to plastic deformation.

amorphous metals
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  1. What does solid state reaction mean for Amorphous Metals?
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  3. What is known as mechanical alloying in Amorphous Metals?
  4. Is Physical Vapour deposition a potent reaction in Amorphous Metals?

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History and Application of Amorphous Metals

In order to obtain an amorphous metal, the alloy must be cooled instantaneously or it would crystallise. The first ever amorphous metal was invented in the year 1960 by W. Klement (Jr.), Willens and Duwez. It was the first metallic glass invented and it was an alloy (Au75Si25).

Following are the application of amorphous metals
  1. It is used in transformers because of its special magnetic properties.
  2. The metal is very brittle, because of this feature it is used in electronic article surveillance. Eg: - theft control positive ID tags.
  3. Carbon nanotubes and BMGs.
  4. Field electron emission devices.
  5. Implantation in bones (screws, plates and pins).
  6. Golf clubs.
  7. Industrial coating.etc.
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