Synopsis: Universality of the glass transition

Temperature and pressure appear to play a more dovetailed role in the glass transition than previously recognized.
Synopsis figure
Illustration: Kawasaki et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 99, 215701 (2007)

A molecular liquid cooled to below its freezing point (i.e., supercooled) can become a glass. A colloidal fluid, a collection of suspended particles undergoing Brownian motion, can form a colloidal glass under increasing pressure.

Though both scenarios are examples of the so-called glass transition, researchers have disagreed on whether the two phenomena are related, that is, on whether temperature or pressure plays a more important role in the formation of a glass. Ning Xu at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Thomas Haxton and Andrea Liu at the University of Pennsylvania, and Sidney Nagel at the University of Chicago, both in the US, explain in a paper published in Physical Review Letters that there is a limit in which the relaxation behavior near the glass transition can be understood without separately invoking temperature T and pressure p; the data collapses on a curve determined by their ratio T/p. This equivalence indicates that there is indeed a hitherto overlooked universal aspect to glass transition. – Sami Mitra


More Features »


More Announcements »

Subject Areas

Fluid Dynamics

Previous Synopsis

Statistical Physics

Gravity organizes sediment

Read More »

Next Synopsis

Quantum Information

When the quantum dog doesn’t bark

Read More »

Related Articles

Focus: <i>Video</i>—Fluid Video Contest Winners
Fluid Dynamics

Focus: Video—Fluid Video Contest Winners

Swimming starfish larvae, dripping paint, and swirling gas jets are featured in the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics’ winning videos. Read More »

Synopsis: How to Make Superhydrophobicity Last
Fluid Dynamics

Synopsis: How to Make Superhydrophobicity Last

Researchers find tricks to prolong the typically short-lived water repellency of a superhydrophobic surface. Read More »

Focus: Drops Falling in Clouds Make More Drops
Fluid Dynamics

Focus: Drops Falling in Clouds Make More Drops

Experiments with a simplified version of the atmosphere show that falling drops seed many smaller droplets in their wake. Read More »

More Articles