A new understanding of how glass is formed may assist with our understanding of everything from the design of golf club heads to the structure of the early universe.
Princeton chemists have found that the formation of glass -- a familiar substance that nonetheless retains some elusive scientific mysteries -- always occurs differently depending on how quickly a liquid substance is cooled into its solid form. Though the findings will likely dash the hopes of condensed matter physicists who have long sought in vain for what is known as an "ideal" glass transition, they may also one day contribute to industrialists efforts to create better plastics and other useful polymers.
"Glasses can be formed from any substance, and the way their molecules interact places them somewhere at the border between solids and liquids, giving them some properties that manufacturers can exploit," said Sal Torquato, a professor of chemistry who is also affiliated with the Princeton Center for Theoretical Physics. "Golf club heads made of metallic glasses, for example, can make golf balls fly farther. While our research could be utilized by industry, it can actually help us understand any glassy multi-particle system, such as the early universe -- which cosmologists have described as a glass."
Chad Boutin | EurekAlert!
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A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.
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