Metallic glass nanostructures: fabrication, properties, and applications
Remarkable progress has been made in fabrication and characterization of metal nanostructures because of their crucial role in energy conversion, nanophotonics, nanoelectronics, and biodiagnostics. Less emphasis has been placed on the synthesis of nanostructures from metallic alloys, which are better suited than elemental metals for certain applications such as fuel-cell catalysts. The main challenges in fabrication of alloy nanostructures are controlling their chemical stoichiometry, crystal structures, and shapes because of anisotropic nucleation and growth rates. These limitations can be overcome by using metallic glasses (amorphous metal alloys) which are isotropic and provide additional control handles through their tunable compositions and degree of crystallinity. Here, we review the recent developments in fabrication and characterization of metallic glass (MG) nanostructures. The focus is on sub-micron structures synthesized by unconventional thermoplastic techniques. A concept of self-assembly is introduced for fashioning functional structures using MG nanostructures as building blocks. The article concludes with a brief discussion about unique properties and prospective applications of MG nanostructures.