Brittle to ductile transition during compression of glassy nanoparticles studied in molecular dynamics simulations

M Akl and LP Huang and YF Shi, JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS, 134, 035104 (2023).

DOI: 10.1063/5.0151127

Understanding how nanoparticles deform under compression not only is of scientific importance but also has practical significance in various applications such as tribology, nanoparticle-based probes, and the dry grinding of raw materials. In this study, we conducted compression tests on model brittle glassy nanoparticles using molecular dynamics simulations. We found that during the early stages of plastic deformation, shear bands formed in a similar pattern regardless of the nanoparticle size. However, as the deformation continued, dominant cracks emerged in large nanoparticles while being suppressed in smaller ones. This size-dependent brittle-to-ductile transition can be explained by a simple model based on Griffith's theory. We also investigated the effect of the surface stress state on fracture using thermally tempered nanoparticles. We observed that the presence of compressive surface stress strengthened the nanoparticle by suppressing crack formation, even when a pre-notch was present. On the other hand, tensile surface stress had the opposite effect. Interestingly, nanoparticles with both tensile and compressive surface stress promoted shear deformation, which could potentially compromise the mechanical performance of tempered glass despite delayed crack formation.

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