Direct Experimental Evidence of a Growing Length Scale Accompanying the Glass Transition

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Science  16 Dec 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5755, pp. 1797-1800
DOI: 10.1126/science.1120714

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Understanding glass formation is a challenge, because the existence of a true glass state, distinct from liquid and solid, remains elusive: Glasses are liquids that have become too viscous to flow. An old idea, as yet unproven experimentally, is that the dynamics becomes sluggish as the glass transition approaches, because increasingly larger regions of the material have to move simultaneously to allow flow. We introduce new multipoint dynamical susceptibilities to estimate quantitatively the size of these regions and provide direct experimental evidence that the glass formation of molecular liquids and colloidal suspensions is accompanied by growing dynamic correlation length scales.

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