Yield Precursor Dislocation Avalanches in Small Crystals: The Irreversibility Transition
The transition from elastic to plastic deformation in crystalline metals shares history dependence and scale-invariant avalanche signature with other nonequilibrium systems under external loading such as colloidal suspensions. These other systems exhibit transitions with clear analogies to work hardening and yield stress, with many typically undergoing purely elastic behavior only after "training" through repeated cyclic loading; studies in these other systems show a power-law scaling of the hysteresis loop extent and of the training time as the peak load approaches a so-called reversible-to-irreversible transition (RIT). We discover here that deformation of small crystals shares these key characteristics: yielding and hysteresis in uniaxial compression experiments of single-crystalline Cu nano- and micropillars decay under repeated cyclic loading. The amplitude and decay time of the yield precursor avalanches diverge as the peak stress approaches failure stress for each pillar, with a power-law scaling virtually equivalent to RITs in other nonequilibrium systems. Â© 2019 American Physical Society.