Molecular dynamics simulations were employed to investigate the specimen thickness-dependent tensile behavior of a series of CuxZr100-x (x = 20, 40, 50, 64 and 80 at.%) metallic glass (MG) films, with a particular focus on the critical thickness, tc, below which non-localized plastic flow takes place. The simulation results reveal that while the transition occurs in all the alloys examined, tc is sensitive to the composition. We rationalize tc by postulating that the strain energy stored in the sample at the onset of plastic deformation has to be sufficient for the formation of shear bands. The composition-dependence of tc was found to correlate with the average activation energy of the atomic level plastic deformation events.

This article originally appeared in Scripta Materialia114, 2016, Pages 93-97.

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