Alcalá, Jorge; Očenášek, Jan; Varillas, Javier; A. El-Awady, Jaafar; Wheeler, Jeffrey M.; Michler, Johann
Scientific Reports 10 (2020)
Plastic deformation in crystalline materials consists of an ensemble of collective dislocation glide processes, which lead to strain burst emissions in micro-scale samples. To unravel the combined role of crystalline structure, sample size and temperature on these processes, we performed a comprehensive set of strict displacement-controlled micropillar compression experiments in conjunction with large-scale molecular dynamics and physics-based discrete dislocation dynamics simulations. The results indicate that plastic strain bursts consist of numerous individual dislocation glide events, which span over minuscule time intervals. The size distributions of these events exhibit a gradual transition from an incipient power-law slip regime (spanning ≈ 2.5 decades of slip sizes) to a large avalanche domain (spanning ≈ 4 decades of emission probability) at a cut-off slip magnitude sc. This cut-off slip provides a statistical measure to the characteristic mean dislocation swept distance, which allows for the scaling of the avalanche distributions vis-à-vis the archetypal dislocation mechanisms in face-centered cubic (FCC) and body-centered cubic (BCC) metals. Our statistical findings provide a new pathway to characterizing metal plasticity and towards comprehension of the sample size effects that limit the mechanical reliability in small-scale structures.