β-Relaxation has long been attributed to localized motion of constituent molecules or atoms confined to isolated regions in glasses. However, direct experimental evidence to support this spatially heterogeneous scenario is still missing. Here we report the evolution of nanoscale structural heterogeneity in a metallic glass during β-relaxation by utilizing amplitude-modulation dynamic atomic force microscopy. The successive degeneration of heterogeneity during β-relaxation can be well described by the Kohlrausch-Williams-Watts equation. The characteristic relaxation time and activation energy of the heterogeneity evolution are in accord with those of excess enthalpy release by β-relaxation. Our study correlates β-relaxation with nanoscale spatial heterogeneity and provides direct evidence on the structural origins of β-relaxation in metallic glasses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)