Continuum limit of the vibrational properties of amorphous solids [Applied Physical Sciences]
The low-frequency vibrational and low-temperature thermal properties of amorphous solids are markedly different from those of crystalline solids. This situation is counterintuitive because all solid materials are expected to behave as a homogeneous elastic body in the continuum limit, in which vibrational modes are phonons that follow the Debye law. A number of phenomenological explanations for this situation have been proposed, which assume elastic heterogeneities, soft localized vibrations, and so on. Microscopic mean-field theories have recently been developed to predict the universal non-Debye scaling law. Considering these theoretical arguments, it is absolutely necessary to directly observe the nature of the low-frequency vibrations of amorphous solids and determine the laws that such vibrations obey. Herein, we perform an extremely large-scale vibrational mode analysis of a model amorphous solid. We find that the scaling law predicted by the mean-field theory is violated at low frequency, and in the continuum limit, the vibrational modes converge to a mixture of phonon modes that follow the Debye law and soft localized modes that follow another universal non-Debye scaling law.
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