Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




M. Lisa Manning



Subject Categories

Condensed Matter Physics | Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Physics


Glasses and disordered granular media represent a class of materials that are quite familiar to us, from the glass in windows and phone screens, to piles of fruits, grains, and sand. Further, living and active systems such as cellular tissues, collections of robots, and even human crowds behave as disordered solids when they are gathered at high enough densities. Despite their ubiquity, there are still many behaviors of these amorphous systems that lack a full understanding. Contrasting crystalline solids, the thermodynamic, vibrational, energetic, and mechanical properties of glasses are not well-characterized by solid state theory. In the case of active glasses, the situation is even more confusing, as the individual components that compose the material are self-driven and dynamical. A feature of passive and active disordered solids that is of particular interest for principles of intelligent material design is their difficult-to-forecast yielding behavior under external or internal driving. In this context, the presence of microstructural defects is expected to be vitally important. Here, I explore methods for identifying populations of defects in simulated structural glasses, and investigate how aspects of material preparation impact the defects and overall mechanical behavior. Additionally, I work to adapt the relevant methods to study glassy defects in modeled active systems. Overall, I demonstrate that structure-dynamics predictions can be effectively formed for a variety of disordered solids by considering approximations of the potential energy of a system and the resulting spectra of excitations.


Open Access