Simulations of aging and plastic deformation in polymer glasses
We study the effect of physical aging on the mechanical properties of a model polymer glass using molecular dynamics simulations. The creep compliance is determined simultaneously with the structural relaxation under a constant uniaxial load below yield at constant temperature. The model successfully captures universal features found experimentally in polymer glasses, including signatures of mechanical rejuvenation. We analyze microscopic relaxation time scales and show that they exhibit the same aging characteristics as the macroscopic creep compliance. In addition, our model indicates that the entire distribution of relaxation times scales identically with age. Despite large changes in mobility, we observe comparatively little structural change except for a weak logarithmic increase in the degree of short-range order that may be correlated with an observed decrease in aging with increasing load.