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Identifying Vibrations That Destabilize Crystals and Characterize the Glassy State

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Science  27 May 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5726, pp. 1299-1302
DOI: 10.1126/science.1109411

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Abstract

High-resolution inelastic neutron scattering was used to identify major sources of low-frequency vibrations in zeolite crystals. Dispersed and nondispersed modes were found, both of which are prominent in the early stages of compressive amorphization but decline dramatically in strength once a glass of conventional density is created. By identifying the dispersed modes with the characteristic vibrations of the various secondary building units of zeolitic structures, the Boson peak, a characteristic of the glassy state, can be attributed to vibrations within connected rings of many different sizes. The nondispersed phonon features in zeolites, retained in the amorphized glass, were also replicated in silica. These modes are librational in origin and are responsible for destabilizing the microporous crystalline structure, for converting the resulting glass from a low- to a high-density phase, and for the associated changes in network topology that affect the Boson peak.

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