PerspectiveMaterials Science

The Surface Mobility of Glasses

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Science  28 Feb 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6174, pp. 975-976
DOI: 10.1126/science.1248113

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The diffusion of atoms and molecules on a crystal surface plays an important role in myriad applications including thin-film deposition, sintering, and heterogeneous catalysis (1, 2). Surface diffusion is frequently observed at temperatures appreciably below the crystal's melting point, implying a role for enhanced surface mobility in the process. However, understanding the dynamics of surface diffusion in glasses is a research area still in its infancy. On page 994 of this issue, Chai et al. (3) present an experimental technique that enables detailed quantification of the near-surface mobility of glasses.