Emergence of equilibrated liquid regions within the glass

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Abstract

The conventional understanding of the glass transition is that the transition from glass to liquid appears as a dynamic process in which atoms or molecules relax cooperatively into the equilibrium phase. Here we show that—in contrast to this picture—isolated regions of liquid form within the glassy matrix and the nature of the glass transition at a given temperature depends on the ratio between the relaxation time of the glass, τglass, and the alpha relaxation time of the equilibrated liquid, τα. At temperatures at which τglassα is large, we observe that high-mobility regions transit directly into the equilibrated liquid and subsequently grow by dynamic facilitation before—or while—cooperative glass relaxation sets into play. On the contrary, at temperatures associated with smaller τglassα, the glass transition proceeds by cooperative relaxation dynamics throughout the material. This behaviour is independent of the experimental procedure or protocol used to produce the glass.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-119
Number of pages6
JournalNature Physics
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

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