Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Materials Science and Engineering

Major Professor

Peter K. Liaw

Committee Members

Hahn Choo, Chain T. Liu, Dayakar Penumadu


Bulk-metallic glasses have established a formidable presence in the scientific community in recent years, due to a number of properties that are uncharacteristic of metallically-bonded materials. One of the fundamental challenges facing researchers in this field is to develop new and improved processing methods with the ultimate goal of facilitating a large-scale industrial integration of the materials.

The research described herein is directed toward the pursuit of developing and improving upon the current state-of-the art in the science of bulk-metallic glass processing. A number of research and development projects were undertaken in this pursuit. First, the technology to process bulk-metallic glasses at the University of Tennessee was developed and successfully implemented. Second, bulk-metallic glasses were produced using aerodynamic levitation, which showed an improvement over the accessible cooling rates achievable employing other containerless-processing methods. Third, erbium was found to be a superior dopant to other rare-earth elements to neutralize the oxygen in a Zr-based glass-forming alloy. The alloy was found to form a glass in the presence of up to 16,000-atomic-ppm oxygen by microalloying with Er, with a relatively minor effect on the thermal and mechanical integrity of the materials. Fourth, metastable intermetallic phases were identified in as-cast VIT-105 alloy materials that contained oxygen, using diffraction. The diffraction study included the whole pattern fitting of diffraction from crystalline species in a BMG, an analytical approach that, if existing at all in the literature, is quite rare. Furthermore, this study included a novel approach to fitting diffraction from the glass. Fifth, oxygen-stabilized analogues to intermetallic phases were found in the superheated-liquid state. The presence of Er was found to inhibit surface reoxidation, revealing its mechanism for the neutralization of oxygen. The results were used to propose a model for heterogeneous nucleation and the so-called "overheating threshold" in the alloy.

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