Diffusive, Displacive Deformations and Local Phase Transformation Govern the Mechanics of Layered Crystals: The Case Study of Tobermorite
Tao, Lei; Shahsavari, Rouzbeh
Understanding the deformation mechanisms underlying the mechanical behavior of materials is the key to fundamental and engineering advances in materials' performance. Herein, we focus on crystalline calcium-silicate-hydrates (C-S-H) as a model system with applications in cementitious materials, bone-tissue engineering, drug delivery and refractory materials, and use molecular dynamics simulation to investigate its loading geometry dependent mechanical properties. By comparing various conventional (e.g. shear, compression and tension) and nano-indentation loading geometries, our findings demonstrate that the former loading leads to size-independent mechanical properties while the latter results in size-dependent mechanical properties at the nanometer scales. We found three key mechanisms govern the deformation and thus mechanics of the layered C-S-H: diffusive-controlled and displacive-controlled deformation mechanisms, and strain gradient with local phase transformations. Together, these elaborately classified mechanisms provide deep fundamental understanding and new insights on the relationship between the macro-scale mechanical properties and underlying molecular deformations, providing new opportunities to control and tune the mechanics of layered crystals and other complex materials such as glassy C-S-H, natural composite structures, and manmade laminated structures.