Scaling description of the yielding transition in soft amorphous solids at zero temperature

Jie Lin 1, 2 Edan Lerner 3 Alberto Rosso 4 Matthieu Wyart 3

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U S A, National Academy of Sciences, 2014, 111, pp.14382

Yield stress materials flow if a sufficiently large shear stress is ap- plied. Although such materials are ubiquitous and relevant for indus- try, there is no accepted microscopic description of how they yield, even in the simplest situations where temperature is negligible and where flow inhomogeneities such as shear bands or fractures are ab- sent. Here we propose a scaling description of the yielding transition in amorphous solids made of soft particles at zero temperature. Our description makes a connection between the Herschel-Bulkley expo- nent characterizing the singularity of the flow curve near the yield stress {\Sigma}c, the extension and duration of the avalanches of plasticity observed at threshold, and the density P(x) of soft spots, or shear transformation zones, as a function of the stress increment x be- yond which they yield. We argue that the critical exponents of the yielding transition can be expressed in terms of three independent exponents {\theta}, df and z, characterizing respectively the density of soft spots, the fractal dimension of the avalanches, and their duration. Our description shares some similarity with the depinning transition that occurs when an elastic manifold is driven through a random potential, but also presents some striking differences. We test our arguments in an elasto-plastic model, an automaton model similar to those used in depinning, but with a different interaction kernel, and find satisfying agreement with our predictions both in two and three dimensions.

  • 1. Division of Parasitology
  • 2. Parasitology, Center of Infectious Diseases
  • 3. New York University, Center for Soft Matter Research
  • 4. LPTMS - Laboratoire de Physique Théorique et Modèles Statistiques