Dr. Szymon Starzonek (FE): Is the study of glass transition still relevant?

Date of publication: 16. 5. 2024
Monday physics colloquium
14:15 - 15:15

The transition to the glassy state is a fascinating phenomenon occurring in many materials, especially in certain polymers, liquid crystals, and low-molecular-weight liquids. It is a type of phase transition in which the material transitions from a liquid or elastic state to a rigid and glassy state without a significant change in volume.
This transition is associated with a transformation of the material's molecular structure, during which molecules arrange themselves in a chaotic manner, leading to the formation of a glassy structure. It is a thermodynamic phenomenon in which the system's free energy reaches a minimum, and molecules occupy positions that minimize the system's energy.
Nevertheless, the nature of the transition to the glassy state can vary depending on the type of material and the conditions of the process. For some materials, this transition may be sharp and easy to observe, while for others, it may be more gradual and difficult to define explicitly.
Research on the transition to the glassy state began over 100 years ago. After all this time, does science still need to explain this phenomenon, or have comprehensive evidence describing the nature of the glass transition already been provided? The anniversary edition of the magazine Science presents a list of unresolved problems that 21st-century physics should address, and one of them is the "explanation of the nature of the glass transition." Do we therefore have a sufficient description of this phenomenon? Has the physics of the glass transition been exhausted?
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