Is crystal plasticity non-conservative? Lessons from large deformation continuum dislocation theory

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Crystal plasticity for large plastic deformations is usually modeled as volume conserving. However, there is experimental evidence that huge amounts of vacancies are produced during plastic deformation. The only regularly considered mechanism of non-conservative dislocation motion is climb of edge dislocations, but this is supposed to be enabled by high vacancy concentrations rather than producing them. In the current contribution we show that large deformation kinematics applied to evolving fields of geometrically necessary dislocations accounts for kinking and jogging of dislocations when cutting through one another. Therefore, dislocation fields in multiple slip situations will not be confined to slip planes and their motion will necessarily involve non-conservative motion of jogs. Because inelastic volume changes in crystals are only possible in the presence of point defects, we find that large deformation continuum dislocation theory must be coupled to an evolving vacancy concentration. We suggest to treat vacancy diffusion as an independent inelastic deformation mechanism yielding a three-way multiplicative decomposition of the deformation gradient. Small numerical examples are used to illustrate the kinematics of emerging and moving kinks and jogs, and the ensuing production of vacancy concentration. Continuum thermodynamics is used to derive coupled evolution equations for geometrically necessary dislocation density vectors and vacancy concentration. We conclude that large deformation crystal plasticity as an averaged theory of dislocations may not be conservative and that the usual kinematic assumption Lp=∑s γs˙ ms ⊗ ns does not hold in multiple slip deformation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103957
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Crystal plasticity
  • Continuum theory of dislocations
  • Vacancy generation
  • Mass diffusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Is crystal plasticity non-conservative? Lessons from large deformation continuum dislocation theory'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this