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Shear band evolution in Zr/Hf-based bulk metallic glasses under static and dynamic indentations

Hongwen Zhang, Michigan Technological University


Bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) exhibit superior mechanical properties as compared with other conventional materials and have been proposed for numerous engineering and technological applications. Zr/Hf-based BMGs or tungsten reinforced BMG composites are considered as a potential replacement for depleted uranium armor-piercing projectiles because of their ability to form localized shear bands during impact, which has been known to be the dominant plastic deformation mechanism in BMGs. However, in conventional tensile, compressive and bending tests, limited ductility has been observed because of fracture initiation immediately following the shear band formation. To fully investigate shear band characteristics, indentation tests that can confine the deformation in a limited region have been pursued. In this thesis, a detailed investigation of thermal stability and mechanical deformation behavior of Zr/Hf-based BMGs is conducted. First, systematic studies had been implemented to understand the influence of relative compositions of Zr and Hf on thermal stability and mechanical property evolution. Second, shear band evolution under indentations were investigated experimentally and theoretically. Three kinds of indentation studies were conducted on BMGs in the current study.

(a) Nano-indentation to determine the mechanical properties as a function of Hf/Zr content.

(b) Static Vickers indentation on bonded split specimens to investigate the shear band evolution characteristics beneath the indention.

(c) Dynamic Vickers indentation on bonded split specimens to investigate the influence of strain rate.

It was found in the present work that gradually replacing Zr by Hf remarkably increases the density and improves the mechanical properties. However, a slight decrease in glass forming ability with increasing Hf content has also been identified through thermodynamic analysis although all the materials in the current study were still found to be amorphous.

Many indentation studies have revealed only a few shear bands surrounding the indent on the top surface of the specimen. This small number of shear bands cannot account for the large plastic deformation beneath the indentations. Therefore, a bonded interface technique has been used to observe the slip-steps due to shear band evolution. Vickers indentations were performed along the interface of the bonded split specimen at increasing loads. At small indentation loads, the plastic deformation was primarily accommodated by semi-circular primary shear bands surrounding the indentation. At higher loads, secondary and tertiary shear bands were formed inside this plastic zone. A modified expanding cavity model was then used to predict the plastic zone size characterized by the shear bands and to identify the stress components responsible for the evolution of the various types of shear bands.

The applicability of various hardness—yield-strength ( H −σγ ) relationships currently available in the literature for bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) is also investigated. Experimental data generated on ZrHf-based BMGs in the current study and those available elsewhere on other BMG compositions were used to validate the models. A modified expanding-cavity model, employed in earlier work, was extended to propose a new H −σγ relationship. Unlike previous models, the proposed model takes into account not only the indenter geometry and the material properties, but also the pressure sensitivity index of the BMGs. The influence of various model parameters is systematically analyzed. It is shown that there is a good correlation between the model predictions and the experimental data for a wide range of BMG compositions.

Under dynamic Vickers indentation, a decrease in indentation hardness at high loading rate was observed compared to static indentation hardness. It was observed that at equivalent loads, dynamic indentations produced more severe deformation features on the loading surface than static indentations. Different from static indentation, two sets of widely spaced semi-circular shear bands with two different curvatures were observed. The observed shear band pattern and the strain rate softening in indentation hardness were rationalized based on the variations in the normal stress on the slip plane, the strain rate of shear and the temperature rise associated with the indentation deformation.

Finally, a coupled thermo-mechanical model is proposed that utilizes a momentum diffusion mechanism for the growth and evolution of the final spacing of shear bands. The influence of strain rate, confinement pressure and critical shear displacement on the shear band spacing, temperature rise within the shear band, and the associated variation in flow stress have been captured and analyzed. Consistent with the known pressure sensitive behavior of BMGs, the current model clearly captures the influence of the normal stress in the formation of shear bands. The normal stress not only reduces the time to reach critical shear displacement but also causes a significant temperature rise during the shear band formation. Based on this observation, the variation of shear band spacing in a typical dynamic indentation test has been rationalized. The temperature rise within a shear band can be in excess of 2000K at high strain rate and high confinement pressure conditions. The associated drop in viscosity and flow stress may explain the observed decrease in fracture strength and indentation hardness.

The above investigations provide valuable insight into the deformation behavior of BMGs under static and dynamic loading conditions. The shear band patterns observed in the above indentation studies can be helpful to understand and model the deformation features under complex loading scenarios such as the interaction of a penetrator with armor.

Future work encompasses (1) extending and modifying the coupled thermo-mechanical model to account for the temperature rise in quasistatic deformation; and (2) expanding this model to account for the microstructural variation-crystallization and free volume migration associated with the deformation