Modeling the Plastic Deformation of Crystals and Glasses with Colloids

Dense colloidal systems form crystalline, liquid and glassy phases similar to those observed in simple atomic systems. Confocal microscope makes it possible to track the individual particles in space and time, which allows a unique look at the mechanisms of deformation on the particle level. Dislocations in colloidal crystals can also be visualized by laser diffraction microscopy. Measurements of the geometry and dynamics of these dislocations agree remarkably well with the classical predictions for atomic-scale crystals. In glasses, the technique has allowed direct measurments of the size, strain and concentration of the local shear transformations that govern the macroscopic flow.

Frans Spaepen, Harvard University

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