Irreversibility transition of colloidal polycrystals under cyclic deformation

PK Jana and MJ Alava and S Zapperi, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 7, 45550 (2017).

DOI: 10.1038/srep45550

Cyclically loaded disordered particle systems, such as granular packings and amorphous media, display a non-equilibrium phase transition towards irreversibility. Here, we investigate numerically the cyclic deformation of a colloidal polycrystal with impurities and reveal a transition to irreversible behavior driven by the displacement of dislocations. At the phase transition we observe enhanced particle diffusion, system size effects and broadly distributed strain bursts. In addition to provide an analogy between the deformation of amorphous and polycrystalline materials, our results allow to reinterpret Zener pinning of grain boundaries as a way to prevent the onset of irreversible crystal ordering.

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