Vibrational modes identify soft spots in a sheared disordered packing

Phys Rev Lett. 2011 Sep 2;107(10):108302. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.107.108302. Epub 2011 Aug 31.


We analyze low-frequency vibrational modes in a two-dimensional, zero-temperature, quasistatically sheared model glass to identify a population of structural "soft spots" where particle rearrangements are initiated. The population of spots evolves slowly compared to the interval between particle rearrangements, and the soft spots are structurally different from the rest of the system. Our results suggest that disordered solids flow via localized rearrangements that tend to occur at soft spots, which are analogous to dislocations in crystalline solids.