Gaussian excitations model for glass-former dynamics and thermodynamics

Dmitry Matyushov, Charles Angell

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50 Scopus citations


We describe a model for the thermodynamics and dynamics of glass-forming liquids in terms of excitations from an ideal glass state to a Gaussian manifold of configurationally excited states. The quantitative fit of this three parameter model to the experimental data on excess entropy and heat capacity shows that "fragile" behavior, indicated by a sharply rising excess heat capacity as the glass transition is approached from above, occurs in anticipation of a first-order transition-usually hidden below the glass transition-to a "strong" liquid state of low excess entropy. The distinction between fragile and strong behavior of glass formers is traced back to an order of magnitude difference in the Gaussian width of their excitation energies. Simple relations connect the excess heat capacity to the Gaussian width parameter, and the liquid-liquid transition temperature, and strong, testable, predictions concerning the distinct properties of energy landscape for fragile liquids are made. The dynamic model relates relaxation to a hierarchical sequence of excitation events each involving the probability of accumulating sufficient kinetic energy on a separate excitable unit. Super-Arrhenius behavior of the relaxation rates, and the known correlation of kinetic with thermodynamic fragility, both follow from the way the rugged landscape induces fluctuations in the partitioning of energy between vibrational and configurational manifolds. A relation is derived in which the configurational heat capacity, rather than the configurational entropy of the Adam-Gibbs equation, controls the temperature dependence of the relaxation times, and this gives a comparable account of the experimental observations without postulating a divergent length scale. The familiar coincidence of zero mobility and Kauzmann temperatures is obtained as an approximate extrapolation of the theoretical equations. The comparison of the fits to excess thermodynamic properties of laboratory glass formers, and to configurational thermodynamics from simulations, reveals that the major portion of the excitation entropy responsible for fragile behavior resides in the low-frequency vibrational density of states. The thermodynamic transition predicted for fragile liquids emerges from beneath the glass transition in case of laboratory water and the unusual heat capacity behavior observed for this much studied liquid can be closely reproduced by the model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number094501
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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