Universal features of amorphous plasticity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


  • Zoe Budrikis
  • David Fernandez Castellanos
  • Stefan Sandfeld
  • Michael Zaiser
  • Stefano Zapperi

Research units

  • Institute for Scientific Interchange Foundation
  • Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg
  • Freiberg University of Mining and Technology
  • Southwest Jiaotong University
  • University of Milan
  • CNR


Plastic yielding of amorphous solids occurs by power-law distributed deformation avalanches whose universality is still debated. Experiments and molecular dynamics simulations are hampered by limited statistical samples, and although existing stochastic models give precise exponents, they require strong assumptions about fixed deformation directions, at odds with the statistical isotropy of amorphous materials. Here, we introduce a fully tensorial, stochastic mesoscale model for amorphous plasticity that links the statistical physics of plastic yielding to engineering mechanics. It captures the complex shear patterning observed for a wide variety of deformation modes, as well as the avalanche dynamics of plastic flow. Avalanches are described by universal size exponents and scaling functions, avalanche shapes, and local stability distributions, independent of system dimensionality, boundary and loading conditions, and stress state. Our predictions consistently differ from those of mean-field depinning models, providing evidence that plastic yielding is a distinct type of critical phenomenon.


Original languageEnglish
Article number15928
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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