Nonaffine deformation of inherent structure as a static signature of cooperativity in supercooled liquids

E Del Gado and P Ilg and M Kroger and HC Ottinger, PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS, 101, 095501 (2008).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.101.095501

We unveil the existence of nonaffinely rearranging regions in the inherent structures (IS) of supercooled liquids by numerical simulations of model glass formers subject to static shear deformations combined with local energy minimizations. In the liquid state IS, we find a broad distribution of large rearrangements which are correlated only over small distances. At low temperatures, the onset of the cooperative dynamics corresponds to much smaller displacements correlated over larger distances. This finding indicates the presence of nonaffinely rearranging domains of relevant size in the IS deformation, which can be seen as the static counterpart of the cooperatively rearranging regions in the dynamics. This idea provides new insight into possible structural signatures of slow cooperative dynamics of supercooled liquids and supports the connections with elastic heterogeneities found in amorphous solids.

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