Particle rearrangement and softening contributions to the nonlinear mechanical response of glasses

M Fan and K Zhang and J Schroers and MD Shattuck and CS O'Hern, PHYSICAL REVIEW E, 96, 032602 (2017).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.96.032602

Amorphous materials such asmetallic, polymeric, and colloidal glasses exhibit complex preparation-dependent mechanical response to applied shear. In particular, glassy soli ds yield, with a mechanical response that transitions from elastic to plastic, with increasing shear strain. We perform numerical simulations to investigate the mechanical response of binary Lennard-Jones glasses undergoing athermal, quasistatic pure shear as a function of the cooling rate R used to prepare them. The ensemble-averaged stress versus strain curve resembles the spatial average in the large size limit, which appears smooth and displays a putative elastic regime at small strains, a yielding-related peak in stress at intermediate strain, and a plastic flowregime at large strains. In contrast, for each glass configuration in the ensemble, the stress-strain curve sigma(gamma) consists of many short nearly linear segments that are punctuated by particle-rearrangement-induced rapid stress drops. To explain the nonlinearity of , we quantify the shape of the small stress-strain segments and the frequency and size of the stress drops in each glass configuration. We decompose the stress loss i.e., the deviation in the slope of from that at into the loss from particle rearrangements and the loss from softening i.e., the reduction of the slopes of the linear segments in sigma(gamma), and then compare the two contributions as a function of R and.. For the current studies, the rearrangement-induced stress loss is larger than the softening-induced stress loss, however, softening stress losses increase with decreasing cooling rate. We also characterize the structure of the potential energy landscape along the strain direction for glasses prepared with different R, and observe a dramatic change of the properties of the landscape near the yielding transition. We then show that the rearrangement-induced energy loss per strain can serve as an order parameter for the yielding transition, which sharpens for slow cooling rates and in large systems.

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