Direct observation of local atomic order in a metallic glass

Akihiko Hirata, Pengfei Guan, Takeshi Fujita, Yoshihiko Hirotsu, Akihisa Inoue, Alain Reza Yavari, Toshio Sakurai, Mingwei Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

441 Citations (Scopus)


The determination of the atomic configuration of metallic glasses is a long-standing problem in materials science and solid-state physics. So far, only average structural information derived from diffraction and spectroscopic methods has been obtained. Although various atomic models have been proposed in the past fifty years, a direct observation of the local atomic structure in disordered materials has not been achieved. Here we report local atomic configurations of a metallic glass investigated by nanobeam electron diffraction combined with ab initio molecular dynamics simulation. Distinct diffraction patterns from individual atomic clusters and their assemblies, which have been theoretically predicted as short- and medium-range order, can be experimentally observed. This study provides compelling evidence of the local atomic order in the disordered material and has important implications in understanding the atomic mechanisms of metallic-glass formation and properties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-33
Number of pages6
JournalNature Materials
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jan
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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