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Mechanisms of crazing in glassy polymers revealed by molecular dynamics simulations
Mechanisms leading to initiation of crazing type failure in a glassy polymer are not clearly understood. This is mainly due to the difficulty in characterizing the stress state and polymer configuration sufficiently locally at the craze initiation site. Using molecular dynamics simulations, we have now been able to access this information and have shown that the local heterogeneous deformation leads to craze initiation in glassy polymers. We found that zones of high plastic activity are constrained by their neighborhood and become unstable, initiating crazing from these sites. Furthermore, based on the constant flow stresses observed in the unstable zones, we conclude that microcavitation is the essential local deformation mode to trigger crazing in glassy polymers. Our results demonstrate the basic difference in the local deformation mode as well as the conditions that lead to either shear-yielding or crazing type failures in glassy polymers. We anticipate our paper to help in devising a new criterion for craze initiation that not only considers the stress state, but also considers local deformation heterogeneities that form the necessary condition for crazing in glassy polymers.