Hooke's law atom structure

What happens to the atoms in a spring when the spring looses its elasticity in hookes law?

I am aware of the hookes law F =-kx but for my assignment i am also to state what happens to the atoms when the spring becomes plastic and deforms how and why?

my asumtion is that they atoms are in a more solid state and moving slow and the greater the extention the further apart the atoms the weaker they hold onto one anouther and the structure then fails. could some one please explain if i am wrong or give a more detailed answer thx.

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