We theoretically study the effect of external deformation on activated structural relaxation and aspects of the nonlinear mechanical response of glassy hard sphere fluids in the context of elastically collective nonlinear Langevin equation theory. This microscopic force-based approach describes activated relaxation as a coupled local-nonlocal event involving caging and longer range collective elasticity, with the latter becoming more important and ultimately dominant with increasing packing fraction under equilibrium conditions. The central new question we address is how this physical picture of activated relaxation, and the relative importance of local caging vs collective elasticity physics, depends on external deformation. Theoretical predictions are presented for deformation-induced enhancement of mobility, the onset of relaxation speed up at remarkably low values of stress, strain, or shear rate, apparent power law thinning of the steady state structural relaxation time and viscosity, a non-vanishing activation barrier in the shear thinning regime, an apparent Herschel-Bulkley form of the rate dependence of the steady state shear stress, exponential growth of different measures of a dynamic yield or flow stress with the packing fraction, and reduced fragility and dynamic heterogeneity under deformation. The results are contrasted with experiments and simulations, and qualitative or better agreement is found. An overarching conclusion is that deformation strongly reduces the importance of longer range collective elastic effects relative to the local caging aspect for most, but not all, physical questions, with deformation-dependent fragility and dynamic heterogeneity phenomena being qualitatively sensitive to collective elasticity. Overall, nonlinear rheology is predicted to be a more local problem than quiescent structural relaxation, albeit with deformation-modified activated processes still important.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry