How crystals flow – plastic deformation of colloidal single crystals

events hall

Dr. Ilya Svetlizky


David Wang Auditorium, 3rd floor Dalia Meidan Bldg.


Plastic (irreversible) deformation of crystals requires disrupting the crystalline order, which happens through nucleation and motion of topological line defects called dislocations. Interactions between dislocations lead to the formation of complex networks that, in turn, dictate the mechanical response of the crystal. The severe difficulty in atomic systems to simultaneously resolve the emerging macroscopic deformation and the evolution of these networks impedes our understanding of crystal plasticity. To circumvent this difficulty, we explore crystal plasticity by using colloidal crystals; the micrometer size of the particles allows us to visualize the deformation process in real-time and on the single particle level.

In this talk, I will focus on two classical problems: instability of heteroepitaxial growth and strain hardening of single crystals. In direct analogy to the heteroepitaxial growth of atomic thin films, we show that colloidal crystals grown on mismatched templates to a critical thickness relax the imposed strain by nucleation of dislocations. Our experiments reveal how interactions between dislocations lead to an unexpectedly sharp relaxation process. I will then show that colloidal crystals can be strain-hardened by plastic shear; the yield strength increases with the dislocation density in excellent accord with the classical Taylor equation, originally developed for atomic crystals. Our experiments reveal the underlying mechanism for Taylor hardening and the conditions under which this mechanism fails.

Host: Asst. Prof. Joshua M. Grolman