Puzzles of the glass transition and why it is still interesting

Puzzles of the glass transition and why it is still interesting

For thousands of years people are using glass transition process and glasses in their everyday life. For hundreds of years researchers are studying the glass transition phenomenon. However, understanding the microscopic mechanism underlying the tremendous slowing down of structural relaxation remains one of the main challenges in the current condensed matter...

Date

September 29, 2014 - 11:00am

Location

Howey - Room L2

For thousands of years people are using glass transition process and glasses in their everyday life. For hundreds of years researchers are studying the glass transition phenomenon. However, understanding the microscopic mechanism underlying the tremendous slowing down of structural relaxation remains one of the main challenges in the current condensed matter physics.

This talk will present an overview of intriguing puzzles of the glass transition phenomena and new ideas generated recently in this field. The mechanism of the steep temperature dependence of structural relaxation time or viscosity remains the central question of the glass transition. Although most of the researchers agree on importance of cooperativity/heterogeneity in dynamics of glass-forming systems, recent studies reveal no clear correlation of dynamic heterogeneity to the sharp slowing down of the structural relaxation.

The mechanism of decoupling of molecular diffusion from structural relaxation (viscosity) in glass-forming liquids, i.e. breakdown of classical Debye-Stokes-Einstein relationship, still has no clear explanation. A tight connection between molecular dynamics on picosecond time scale and structural relaxation on time scale of seconds and hours remains an intriguing puzzle and thus far found no reasonable explanation. We will discuss those and other important issues in the field and will formulate some general ideas describing mechanism of the glass transition.

The last part of the talk focuses on application of the ideas developed in the field of the glass transition to challenging problems in energy and bio technologies. In particular, we will discuss novel ideas for developing advanced polymer electrolytes for energy storage applications and a role of the glass transition in biology and in preservation of biological molecules and organisms.