New Way of Making GlassNew Way of Making Glass

20/11/2012

A new way to make glass has been discovered by a collaboration of researchers at the Universities of Düsseldorf and Bristol using a method that controls how the atoms within a substance are arranged around each other.The research is published November 9 in Physical Review Letters. When cooling a liquid below its melting temperature it either crystallizes or transforms into a glass. Glass is a peculiar state of matter: it has the mechanical properties of a solid but an amorphous structure like a liquid. As long ago as 1952, Sir Charles Frank at the University of Bristol argued that the structure of glasses should not be entirely disordered like a liquid but rather that it should be filled with structural motifs like the bicapped square antiprism [inset pictured]. Although such motifs have very recently been found in experiments and computer simulations on glassy materials, it has not been clear what role these play in how a liquid becomes a (glassy) solid. The Düsseldorf and Bristol researchers created a new type of glass in a computer through encouraging atoms in a nickel-phosphorus alloy to form the pictured polyhedron. When these polyhedra formed, the liquid no longer flowed — it had become a solid. In other words, they found that instead of cooling, a liquid can turn into a glass by changing its structure.

Making glass by changing the structure of a liquid. Left: normal liquid alloy of nickel (silver) and phosphorous (orange) atoms. Encouraging atoms to form bicapped square antiprisms (inset) turned the liquid into a solid glass (right) where the nickel (turquoise) and phosphorus (green) atoms in antiprisms are drawn larger. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Bristol)

Fuente: Sciencedaily

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