Yielding of glass under shear: A directed percolation transition precedes shear-band formation

GP Shrivastav and P Chaudhuri and J Horbach, PHYSICAL REVIEW E, 94, 042605 (2016).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.94.042605

Under external mechanical loading, glassy materials, ranging from soft matter systems to metallic alloys, often respond via formation of inhomogeneous flow patterns, during yielding. These inhomogeneities can be precursors to catastrophic failure, implying that a better understanding of their underlying mechanisms could lead to the design of smarter materials. Here, extensive molecular dynamics simulations are used to reveal the emergence of heterogeneous dynamics in a binary Lennard-Jones glass, subjected to a constant strain rate. At a critical strain, this system exhibits for all considered strain rates a transition towards the formation of a percolating cluster of mobile regions. We give evidence that this transition belongs to the universality class of directed percolation. Only at low shear rates, the percolating cluster subsequently evolves into a transient (but long- lived) shear band with a diffusive growth of its width. Finally, the steady state with a homogeneous flow pattern is reached. In the steady state, percolation transitions also do occur constantly, albeit over smaller strain intervals, to maintain the stationary plastic flow in the system.

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