Is the Fragility of a Liquid Embedded in the Properties of Its Glass?

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Science  31 Oct 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5646, pp. 849-852
DOI: 10.1126/science.1089446

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When a liquid is cooled below its melting temperature, it usually crystallizes. However, if the quenching rate is fast enough, the system may remain in a disordered state, progressively losing its fluidity upon further cooling. When the time needed for the rearrangement of the local atomic structure reaches approximately 100 seconds, the system becomes “solid” for any practical purpose, and this defines the glass transition temperature Tg. Approaching this transition from the liquid side, different systems show qualitatively different temperature dependencies of the viscosity, and accordingly they have been classified by introducing the concept of “fragility.” We report experimental observations that relate the microscopic properties of the glassy phase to the fragility. We find that the vibrational properties of the glass well below Tg are correlated with the fragility value. Consequently, we extend the fragility concept to the glassy state and indicate how to determine the fragility uniquely from glass properties well below Tg.

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