Plasticity of crystals and interfaces: From discrete dislocations to size-dependent continuum theory

Siniša Dj. Mesarović

In this communication, we summarize the current advances in size-dependent continuum plasticity of crystals, specifically, the rate-independent (quasistatic) formulation, on the basis of dislocation mechanics. A particular emphasis is placed on relaxation of slip at interfaces. This unsolved problem is the current frontier of research in plasticity of crystalline materials. We outline a framework for further investigation, based on the developed theory for the bulk crystal. The bulk theory is based on the concept of geometrically necessary dislocations, specifically, on configurations where dislocations pile-up against interfaces. The average spacing of slip planes provides a characteristic length for the theory. The physical interpretation of the free energy includes the error in elastic interaction energies resulting from coarse representation of dislocation density fields. Continuum kinematics is determined by the fact that dislocation pile-ups have singular distribution, which allows us to represent the dense dislocation field at the boundary as a superdislocation, i.e., the jump in the slip filed. Associated with this jump is a slip-dependent interface energy, which in turn, makes this formulation suitable for analysis of interface relaxation mechanisms.