Deformation of Crystals: Connections with Statistical Physics

James P. Sethna, Matthew K. Bierbaum, Karin A. Dahmen, Carl P. Goodrich, Julia R. Greer, Lorien X. Hayden, Jaron P. Kent-Dobias, Edward D. Lee, Danilo B. Liarte, Xiaoyue Ni, Katherine N. Quinn, Archishman Raju, D. Zeb Rocklin, Ashivni Shekhawat, Stefano Zapperi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We give a bird's-eye view of the plastic deformation of crystals aimed at the statistical physics community, as well as a broad introduction to the statistical theories of forced rigid systems aimed at the plasticity community. Memory effects in magnets, spin glasses, charge density waves, and dilute colloidal suspensions are discussed in relation to the onset of plastic yielding in crystals. Dislocation avalanches and complex dislocation tangles are discussed via a brief introduction to the renormalization group and scaling. Analogies to emergent scale invariance in fracture, jamming, coarsening, and a variety of depinning transitions are explored. Dislocation dynamics in crystals challenge nonequilibrium statistical physics. Statistical physics provides both cautionary tales of subtle memory effects in nonequilibrium systems and systematic tools designed to address complex scale-invariant behavior on multiple length scales and timescales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-246
Number of pages30
JournalAnnual Review of Materials Research
StatePublished - Jul 3 2017


  • Critical phenomena
  • Crystals
  • Dislocation
  • Irreversible deformation
  • Plasticity
  • Renormalization group
  • Work hardening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


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