Fracture of silicate glasses: Microcavities and correlations between atomic-level properties

Z Zhang and S Ispas and W Kob, PHYSICAL REVIEW MATERIALS, 6, 085601 (2022).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevMaterials.6.085601

We use large-scale simulations to investigate the dynamic fracture of silica and sodium-silicate glasses under uniaxial tension. The stress- strain curves demonstrate that silica glass is brittle whereas the glasses rich in Na show pronounced ductility. A strong composition dependence is also seen in the crack velocity which, for the strain rate considered, is on the order of 1800 m/s for glasses with low Na concentration and decreases to 650 m/s if the concentration is high. We find that during the fracture of Na-rich glasses very irregular cavities as large as 3-4 nm form ahead of the crack front, indicating the presence of nanoductility in these glasses. Before fracture occurs, the local composition, structure, and mechanical properties are heterogeneous in space and show a strong dependence on the applied strain. Further analysis of the correlations between these local properties allows to obtain a better microscopic understanding of the deformation and fracture of oxide glasses and how the local heating close to the crack tip, up to several hundred degrees, permits the structure to relax.

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