Long-term measurements of ultrastable glass flow cut short with new process

  Science & technology

The collaboration of three European universities in Spain and Italy has resulted in a technique to rapidly manufacture “old” glass to mimic glasses aged naturally for millennia. The same studies also enable to measure viscosity to get a glimpse into the very long-term glass relaxation behaviour.

Glassmeasurement
University researchers in Spain and Italy have devised a technique to measure viscosity
Researchers from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain), University of Rome La Sapienza (Italy), and Politecnico Milano (Italy) have devised a technique to rapidly manufacture “old” glass to mimic glasses aged naturally for millennia and measure viscosity to get a glimpse into the very long-term glass relaxation behaviour.
Glass is a rigid material with an amorphous structure. The question is whether it behaves like a really viscous liquid, or whether it ceases completely to flow at low temperatures. Current glass theories predict that glass’s liquid-like molecules stop flowing at a certain low temperature, but from a practical perspective, very high viscosities are nearly impossible to measure.
“We managed to measure relaxation times as large as thousands years, previously inaccessible to experimental determinations, demonstrating the lack of structural arrest at temperature well below the glass transition point or, equivalently, the lack of the viscosity divergence, calling into question our understanding of the glassy state,” says Tullio Scopigno, coordinator of the research and thermodynamics and photonics professor at the University of Rome.
“To this purpose, we had to prepare millenary glasses assembling the molecules one by one, and controlling their age with very high precision. It’s like obtaining perfectly aged wines without having to wait for maturing,” he says. New research shows that glass viscosity does not diverge at a certain low temperature, contr...


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