Whereas glass is a very ubiquitous materials that we use every day, it additionally represents a significant scientific conundrum. Opposite to what one may anticipate, the true nature of glass stays one thing of a thriller, with scientific inquiry into its chemical and bodily properties nonetheless underway. In chemistry and physics, the time period glass itself is a mutable idea: It consists of the substance we all know as window glass, however it could additionally check with a spread of different supplies with properties that may be defined by reference to glass-like behaviour, together with, for example, metals, plastics, proteins, and even organic cells.

Whereas it could give the impression, glass is something however conventionally strong. Usually, when a cloth transitions from a liquid to a strong state the molecules line as much as kind a crystal sample. In glass, this doesn’t occur. As a substitute, the molecules are successfully frozen in place earlier than crystallization occurs. This unusual and disordered state is attribute of glasses throughout completely different methods and scientists are nonetheless attempting to know how precisely this metastable state kinds.

A novel state of matter: liquid glass

Analysis led by professors Andreas Zumbusch (Division of Chemistry) and Matthias Fuchs (Division of Physics), each based mostly on the College of Konstanz, has simply added one other layer of complexity to the glass conundrum. Utilizing a mannequin system involving suspensions of tailored ellipsoidal colloids, the researchers uncovered a brand new state of matter, liquid glass, the place particular person particles are capable of transfer but unable to rotate — advanced behaviour that has not beforehand been noticed in bulk glasses. The outcomes are printed within the Proceedings of the Nationwide Academy of Sciences.

Colloidal suspensions are mixtures or fluids that comprise strong particles which, at sizes of a micrometre (one millionth of a metre) or extra, are greater than atoms or molecules and subsequently well-suited to investigation with optical microscopy. They’re common amongst scientists learning glass transitions as a result of they function lots of the phenomena that additionally happen in different glass-forming supplies.

Tailored ellipsoidal colloids

So far, most experiments involving colloidal suspensions have relied on spherical colloids. The vast majority of pure and technical methods, nevertheless, are composed of non-spherical particles. Utilizing polymer chemistry, the group led by Andreas Zumbusch manufactured small plastic particles, stretching and cooling them till they achieved their ellipsoid kinds after which positioned them in an acceptable solvent. “Attributable to their distinct shapes our particles have orientation — versus spherical particles — which supplies rise to thoroughly new and beforehand unstudied sorts of advanced behaviours,” explains Zumbusch, who’s a professor of bodily chemistry and senior creator on the research.

The researchers then went on to alter particle concentrations within the suspensions, and tracked each the translational and rotational movement of the particles utilizing confocal microscopy. Continues Zumbusch: “At sure particle densities orientational movement froze whereas translational movement continued, leading to glassy states the place the particles clustered to kind native constructions with related orientation.” What the researchers have termed liquid glass is a results of these clusters mutually obstructing one another and mediating attribute long-range spatial correlations. These forestall the formation of a liquid crystal which might be the globally ordered state of matter anticipated from thermodynamics.

Two competing glass transitions

What the researchers noticed have been in reality two competing glass transitions — a daily part transformation and a nonequilibrium part transformation — interacting with one another. “That is extremely fascinating from a theoretical vantage level,” feedback Matthias Fuchs, professor of soppy condensed matter concept on the College of Konstanz and the opposite senior creator on the paper. “Our experiments present the sort of proof for the interaction between crucial fluctuations and glassy arrest that the scientific group has been after for fairly a while.” A prediction of liquid glass had remained a theoretical conjecture for twenty years.

The outcomes additional counsel that related dynamics could also be at work in different glass-forming methods and should thus assist to make clear the behaviour of advanced methods and molecules starting from the very small (organic) to the very massive (cosmological). It additionally doubtlessly impacts the event of liquid crystalline gadgets.

The analysis was initiated as a part of the College of Konstanz’s Collaborative Analysis Centre (CRC) 1214 “Anisotropic Particles as Constructing Blocks: Tailoring Form, Interactions and Buildings,” which was funded by the German Analysis Basis (DFG) from 2016 to 2020.


  • A group of chemists and physicists from the College of Konstanz has found a brand new state of matter, liquid glass, with beforehand unknown structural parts.
  • Analysis led by Professor Andreas Zumbusch (Division of Chemistry) and Professor Matthias Fuchs (Division of Physics) supplies new insights into the as-yet unresolved challenge of glass transition.
  • Experiments with ellipsoidal colloids reveal that liquid glass kinds as a result of the particles are capable of transfer however unable to rotate — which leads to native particle clusters that impede one another and thus forestall an ordered state of matter from forming.
  • The analysis was initiated as a part of the College of Konstanz’s Collaborative Analysis Centre (CRC) 1214 “Anisotropic Particles as Constructing Blocks: Tailoring Form, Interactions and Buildings,” which was funded by the German Analysis Basis (DFG) from 2016 to 2020.

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Supplies offered by College of Konstanz. Word: Content material could also be edited for type and size.


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