Correlation between rearrangements and soft modes in polymer glasses during deformation and recovery

Publication Type
Journal Article
Year of Publication
Smessaert, Anton
Rottler, Jörg
Name of Publication
Physical Review E

We explore the link between soft vibrational modes and local relaxation events in polymer glasses during physical aging, active deformation at constant strain rate, and subsequent recovery. A softness field is constructed out of the superposition of the amplitudes of the lowest energy normal modes, and found to predict up to 70% of the rearrangements. Overlap between softness and rearrangements increases logarithmically during aging and recovery phases as energy barriers rise due to physical aging, while yielding rapidly rejuvenates the overlap to that of a freshly prepared glass. In the strain hardening regime, correlations rise for uniaxial tensile deformation but not for simple shear. These trends can be explained by considering the differing degrees of localization of the soft modes in the two deformation protocols.