Predicting plasticity with soft vibrational modes: from dislocations to glasses

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We show how to utilize soft modes in the vibrational spectrum as a universal tool for the identification of defects in solids. Perfect crystals with isolated dislocations exhibit single phonon modes that localize at the dislocation core, and their polarization pattern predicts the motion of atoms during elementary dislocation glide in two and three dimensions in great detail. A superposition of soft modes can be used to construct a population of soft spots that predict the location of local plastic rearrangements at the grain boundaries of polycrystals and in amorphous solids. Additionally, we find a significant correlation between the soft directions of the polarization fields and the atomic displacements that result from elementary shear events.