Research ArticleCONDENSED MATTER PHYSICS

Microscopic pathways for stress relaxation in repulsive colloidal glasses

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Science Advances  20 Mar 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 12, eaaz2982
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz2982

Abstract

Residual stresses are well-known companions of all glassy materials. They affect and, in many cases, even strongly modify important material properties like the mechanical response and the optical transparency. The mechanisms through which stresses affect such properties are, in many cases, still under study, and their full understanding can pave the way to a full exploitation of stress as a primary control parameter. It is, for example, known that stresses promote particle mobility at small length scales, e.g., in colloidal glasses, gels, and metallic glasses, but this connection still remains essentially qualitative. Exploiting a preparation protocol that leads to colloidal glasses with an exceptionally directional built-in stress field, we characterize the stress-induced dynamics and show that it can be visualized as a collection of “flickering,” mobile regions with linear sizes of the order of ≈20 particle diameters (≈2 μm here) that move cooperatively, displaying an overall stationary but locally ballistic dynamics.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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