Although glass can be found at every nook and cranny in the world, it is a material that has posed a puzzle to scientists. The nature of glass is still somewhat a mystery, contrary to what people think. Up until now, there is still ongoing research about the physical and chemical properties of this material. And now Liquid Glass has been discovered by scientists.
According to physics and chemistry, glass has several meanings. For instance, it can be the material we know as the glass door and can be referred to as other materials with properties.
Glass is conventionally a solid material. Usually, molecules form a crystal pattern when materials change from a liquid state to a solid-state. However, this is not the case in glass.
Before crystallization happens, glass molecules remain perfectly immobile. That’s how glasses remain across several systems and this strange phenomenon has become a mystery to scientists.
Professor Andreas Zumbusch from the Department of Chemistry and Professor Matthias Fuchs from the Department of Physics both led the research. The two professors from the University of Konstanz has made the initial puzzling glass phenomenon more complex.
While using a system involving tailor-made ellipsoidal colloids suspensions, the professors found out something interesting. They were able to unravel a new state of matter, liquid glass, where the particles are mobile but can’t rotate. These findings have not been seen previously in large glasses.
What are Colloidal Suspensions?
These are fluids or mixtures that contain solid particles, though minute, but are bigger than molecules and atoms. Optical microscopy is used while investigating these materials.
Colloidal suspensions share similar features with other glass-forming materials. That’s one major reason scientists use them.
Liquid glass uses the same basic technology.
What are Tailor-made Ellipsoidal Colloids?
Most experiments have depended on spherical colloids, especially those involving colloidal suspensions. The natural and technical systems compose majorly of non-spherical particles.
With the application of polymer chemistry, Andreas Zumbusch and his team created small plastic particles. They stretched and cooled these materials until it formed an ellipsoid shape before placing them in the appropriate solvent.
Using confocal microscopy, the researchers changed the particle concentrations in the suspensions. Then they tracked the rotational and translational motion of the particles.
Zumbusch stated that orientational motion remained static while translational motion persisted. As a result of this, glassy states are formed due to the particles being clustered to form local structures with the same orientation.
Liquid glass, according to the researchers, is the result of clusters mutually blocking one another and mediating long-range spatial correlations. Due to this phenomenon, the formation of a liquid crystal becomes impossible which would be the ordered state of matter generally.
The researchers discovered two competing glass transitions – a nonequilibrium phase transformation and a regular phase transformation acting upon each other.
Mathias Fuchs, professor of soft condensed matter theory at the University of Konstanz, described the research as incredibly interesting.
“Our experiments provide the kind of evidence for the interplay between critical fluctuations and glassy arrest that the scientific community has been after for quite some time,” Fuchs said.
For twenty years, the concept of liquid glass had remained hypothesis – a guess.
Further suggestions based on the result revealed that similar dynamics may apply to other glass-forming systems. Also, it may provide clarity on the behavior of complex molecules and systems, either small or large.
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