The toughness of a polymer glass is determined by the interplay of yielding, strain softening, and strain hardening. Molecular-dynamics simulations of a typical polymer glass, atactic polystyrene, under the influence of active deformation have been carried out to enlighten these processes. It is observed that the dominant interaction for the yield peak is of interchain nature and for the strain hardening of intrachain nature. A connection is made with the microscopic cage-to-cage motion. It is found that the deformation does not lead to complete erasure of the thermal history but that differences persist at large length scales. Also we find that the strain-hardening modulus increases with increasing external pressure. This new observation cannot be explained by current theories such as the one based on the entanglement picture and the inclusion of this effect will lead to an improvement in constitutive modeling.

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