Reversible plasticity in amorphous materials
Published 2007-07-26, updated 2007-09-13Version 2
A fundamental assumption in our understanding of material rheology is that when microscopic deformations are reversible, the material responds elastically to external loads. Plasticity, i.e. dissipative and irreversible macroscopic changes in a material, is assumed to be the consequence of irreversible microscopic events. Here we show direct evidence for reversible plastic events at the microscopic scale in both experiments and simulations of two-dimensional foam. In the simulations, we demonstrate a link between reversible plastic rearrangement events and pathways in the potential energy landscape of the system. These findings represent a fundamental change in our understanding of materials--microscopic reversibility does not necessarily imply elasticity.