Plasticity and dynamical heterogeneity in driven glassy materials

M Tsamados, EUROPEAN PHYSICAL JOURNAL E, 32, 165-181 (2010).

DOI: 10.1140/epje/i2010-10609-0

Many amorphous glassy materials exhibit complex spatio-temporal mechanical response and rheology, characterized by an intermittent stress strain response and a fluctuating velocity profile. Under quasistatic and athermal deformation protocols this heterogeneous plastic flow was shown to be composed of plastic events of various sizes, ranging from local quadrupolar plastic rearrangements to system spanning shear bands. In this paper, through numerical study of a 2D Lennard-Jones amorphous solid, we generalize the study of the heterogeneous dynamics of glassy materials to the finite shear rate ((gamma) over dot not equal 0) and temperature case (T not equal 0). In practice, we choose an effectively athermal limit (T similar to 0) and focus on the influence of shear rate on the rheology of the glass. In line with previous works we find that the model Lennard-Jones glass follows the rheological behavior of a yield stress fluid with a Herschel-Bulkley response of the form, sigma = sigma(Y) + c(1)(gamma) over dot(beta). The global mechanical response obtained through the use of Molecular Dynamics is shown to converge in the limit (gamma) over dot -> 0 to the quasistatic limit obtained with an energy minimization protocol. The detailed analysis of the plastic deformation at different shear rates shows that the glass follows different flow regimes. At sufficiently low shear rates the mechanical response reaches a shear- rate-independent regime that exhibits all the characteristics of the quasistatic response (finite-size effects, cascades of plastic rearrangements, yield stress,...). At intermediate shear rates the rheological properties are determined by the externally applied shear rate and the response deviates from the quasistatic limit. Finally at higher shear the system reaches a shear-rate-independent homogeneous regime. The existence of these three regimes is also confirmed by the detailed analysis of the atomic motion. The computation of the four- point correlation function shows that the transition from the shear- rate-dominated to the quasistatic regime is accompanied by the growth of a dynamical cooperativity length scale xi that is shown to diverge with shear rate as xi proportional to (gamma) over dot(-nu) with nu similar to 0.2-0.3. This scaling is compared with the prediction of a simple model that assumes the diffusive propagation of plastic events.

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