Damping & Plastic Deformation (Edexcel International A Level Physics)

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Damping & Plastic Deformation

  • Damping an oscillator affects its amplitude of oscillation: 
    • When damping is increased the amplitude decreased
    • damping and amplitude are inversely proportional to each other

Resonance graph damping, downloadable AS & A Level Physics revision notes

As damping is increased, resonance peak lowers, the curve broadens and moves slightly to the left

  • A Ductile material can be stretched for a long time before it snaps
    • We can say it undergoes a large amount of plastic deformation before it is permanently deformed


  • Examples of ductile materials include:
    • Most metals (particularly copper, gold and silver)
    • Non-metals are generally not ductile

Brittle and ductile material, downloadable AS & A Level Physics revision notes

Brittle and ductile materials on a stress-strain graph. These are the same on a force-extension graph too

  • The amplitude of oscillations can be reduced due to the plastic deformation of a ductile material
  • This happens because energy from the oscillations is used to deform the material
    • The kinetic energy of the oscillator is reduced and transferred into the deformation of the material
  • A climbing rope is different from a rescue rope or a bungee cord:
    • A climbing rope is designed to extend when loaded suddenly
    • The rope stretches to reduce the amplitude of the oscillation when a climber falls onto it 
    • It provides critical damping by immediately stopping the climber from bouncing


A climber uses a dynamic rope that stretches when she falls onto it. This reduces the amplitude of her oscillation and the force she experiences reducing injury.

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Katie M

Author: Katie M

Katie has always been passionate about the sciences, and completed a degree in Astrophysics at Sheffield University. She decided that she wanted to inspire other young people, so moved to Bristol to complete a PGCE in Secondary Science. She particularly loves creating fun and absorbing materials to help students achieve their exam potential.