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Arun K. Subramaniyan's blog

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Continuum interpretation of virial stress in molecular simulations

Arun K. Subramaniyan and C. T. Sun, accepted for publication in International Journal of Solids and Structures, doi:10.1016/j.ijsolstr.2008.03.016

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Equivalence of Virial stress to Continuum Cauchy Stress

Calculating stresses in MD simulations is a controversial topic. There are two different schools of thought about the equivalence of the virial stress to the continuum Cauchy stress; for and against. Some argue based on momentum balance, that only the potential contribution to the virial stress should be considered as the continuum Cauchy stress. However, others assert that the total virial stress that contains both the kinetic and potential parts is indeed the quantity that corresponds to the Cauchy stress in continuum mechanics. We used a simple thermo-elastic analysis to verify the validity of using the total virial stress as the continuum Cauchy stress and found that the total virial stress is indeed the continuum Cauchy stress.

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