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Two distinct types of slip events occur during serrated plastic flow of bulk metallic glasses. These events are distinguished not only by their size but also by distinct stress drop rate profiles. Small stress drop serrations have fluctuating stress drop rates (with maximum stress drop rates ranging from 0.3–1 GPa/s), indicating progressive or intermittent propagation of a shear band. The large stress drop serrations are characterized by sharply peaked stress drop rate profiles (with maximum stress drop rates of 1–100 GPa/s). The propagation of a large slip is preceded by a slowly rising stress drop rate that is presumably due to the percolation of slipping weak spots prior to the initiation of shear over the entire shear plane. The onset of the rapid shear event is accompanied by a burst of acoustic emission. These large slips correspond to simultaneous shear with uniform sliding as confirmed by direct high-speed imaging and image correlation. Both small and large slip events occur throughout plastic deformation. The significant differences between these two types require that they be carefully distinguished in both modeling and experimental efforts.


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