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  1. Abstract

    The onset of yielding and the related atomic-scale plastic flow behavior of bulk metallic glasses at room temperature have not been fully understood due to the difficulty in performing the atomic-scale plastic deformation experiments needed to gain direct insight into the underlying fundamental deformation mechanisms. Here we overcome these limitations by combining a unique sample preparation method with atomic force microscopy-based indentation, which allows study of the yield stress, onset of yielding, and atomic-scale plastic flow of a platinum-based bulk metallic glass in volumes containing as little as approximately 1000 atoms. Yield stresses markedly higher than in conventional nanoindentation testing were observed, surpassing predictions from current models that relate yield stress to tested volumes; subsequent flow was then established to be homogeneous without exhibiting collective shear localization or loading rate dependence. Overall, variations in glass properties due to fluctuations of free volume are found to be much smaller than previously suggested.

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  2. We investigate the non-affine displacement fields that occur in two-dimensional Lennard-Jones models of metallic glasses subjected to athermal, quasistatic simple shear (AQS). During AQS, the shear stress versus strain displays continuous quasi-elastic segments punctuated by rapid drops in shear stress, which correspond to atomic rearrangement events. We capture all information concerning the atomic motion during the quasi-elastic segments and shear stress drops by performing Delaunay triangularizations and tracking the deformation gradient tensor F α associated with each triangle α . To understand the spatio-temporal evolution of the displacement fields during shear stress drops, we calculate F α along minimal energy paths from the mechanically stable configuration immediately before to that after the stress drop. We find that quadrupolar displacement fields form and dissipate both during the quasi-elastic segments and shear stress drops. We then perform local perturbations (rotation, dilation, simple and pure shear) to single triangles and measure the resulting displacement fields. We find that local pure shear deformations of single triangles give rise to mostly quadrupolar displacement fields, and thus pure shear strain is the primary type of local strain that is activated by bulk, athermal quasistatic simple shear. Other local perturbations, e.g. rotations, dilations, and simple shear of single triangles, give rise to vortex-like and dipolar displacement fields that are not frequently activated by bulk AQS. These results provide fundamental insights into the non-affine atomic motion that occurs in driven, glassy materials. 
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