Molecular dynamics investigation of dynamical heterogeneity and local structure in the supercooled liquid and glass states of Al

TitleMolecular dynamics investigation of dynamical heterogeneity and local structure in the supercooled liquid and glass states of Al
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsLi MZ, Wang CZ, Mendelev MI, Ho KM
Journal TitlePhysical Review B
Date PublishedMay
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number1098-0121
Accession NumberISI:000256885300043
Keywordsbond-orientational order, COMPUTER, diffusion, fluctuations, FORMING LIQUIDS, LENNARD-JONES LIQUID, MOTION, relaxation, simulation, transition

Molecular dynamics simulations are performed to study the structure and dynamical heterogeneity in the liquid and glass states of Al using a frequently employed embedded atom potential. While the pair correlation function of the glass and liquid states displays only minor differences, the icosahedral short-range order (ISRO) and the dynamics of the two states are very different. The ISRO is much stronger in the glass than in the liquid. It is also found that both the most mobile and the most immobile atoms in the glass state tend to form clusters, and the clusters formed by the immobile atoms are more compact. In order to investigate the local environment of each atom in the liquid and glass states, a local density is defined to characterize the local atomic packing. There is a strong correlation between the local packing density and the mobility of the atoms. These results indicate that dynamical heterogeneity in glasses is directly correlated to the local structure. We also analyze the diffusion mechanisms of atoms in the liquid and glass states. It is found that for the mobile atoms in the glass state, initially they are confined in the cages formed by their nearest neighbors and vibrating. On the time scale of 8 relaxation, the mobile atoms try to break up the cage confinement and hop into new cages. In the supercooled liquid states, however, atoms continuously diffuse. Furthermore, it is found that on the time scale of 3 relaxation, some of the mobile atoms in the glass state cooperatively hop, which is facilitated by the stringlike cluster structures. On the longer time scale, it is found that a certain fraction of atoms can simultaneously hop, although they are not nearest neighbors. Further analysis shows that these hopping atoms form big and more compact clusters than the characterized most mobile atoms. The cooperative rearrangement of these big compact clusters might facilitate the simultaneous hopping of atoms in the glass states on the long time scale.

Alternate JournalPhys. Rev. B