The race to the bottom: approaching the ideal glass?
CP Royall and F Turci and S Tatsumi and J Russo and J Robinson, JOURNAL OF PHYSICS-CONDENSED MATTER, 30, 363001 (2018).
Key to resolving the scientific challenge of the glass transition is to understand the origin of the massive increase in viscosity of liquids cooled below their melting temperature (avoiding crystallisation). A number of competing and often mutually exclusive theoretical approaches have been advanced to describe this phenomenon. Some posit a bona fide thermodynamic phase to an 'ideal glass', an amorphous state with exceptionally low entropy. Other approaches are built around the concept of the glass transition as a primarily dynamic phenomenon. These fundamentally different interpretations give equally good descriptions of the data available, so it is hard to determine which-if any-is correct. Recently however this situation has begun to change. A consensus has emerged that one powerful means to resolve this longstanding question is to approach the putative thermodynamic transition sufficiently closely, and a number of techniques have emerged to meet this challenge. Here we review the results of some of these new techniques and discuss the implications for the existence-or otherwise- of the thermodynamic transition to an ideal glass.
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