Molecular-Dynamics Simulations of the Emergence of Surface Roughness in a Polymer under Compression
R Vacher and AS de Wijn, MATERIALS, 14, 7327 (2021).
Roughness of surfaces is both surprisingly ubiquitous on all length scales and extremely relevant practically. The appearance of multi-scale roughness has been linked to avalanches and plastic deformation in metals. However, other, more-complex materials have mechanisms of plasticity that are significantly different from those of metals. We investigated the emergence of roughness in a polymer under compression. We performed molecular-dynamics simulations of a slab of solid polyvinyl alcohol that was compressed bi-axially, and we characterised the evolution of the surface roughness. We found significantly different behaviour than what was previously observed in similar simulations of metals. We investigated the differences and argue that the visco- elasticity of the material plays a crucial role.
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