Strain is a crucial measure of materials deformation for evaluating and predicting the mechanical response, strength, and fracture. The spatial resolution attainable by the modern real and reciprocal space techniques continues to improve, alongside the ability to carry out atomistic simulations. This is offering new insights into the very concept of strain. In crystalline materials, the presence of well-defined, stable atomic planes allows defining strain as the relative change in the interplanar spacing. However, the presence of disorder, e.g. locally around defects such as dislocation cores, and particularly the pervasive atomic disorder in amorphous materials challenge existing paradigms: disorder prevents a reference configuration being defined, and allows strain to be accommodated in a different manner to crystalline materials. As an illustration, using experimental pair distribution function analysis in combination with Molecular Dynamic (MD) simulations, we highlight the importance of bond angle change vs bond stretching for strain accommodation in amorphous systems.
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