Glass formation and glass transition in supercooled liquids, with insights from study of related phenomena in crystals

Charles Angell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


We divide glass and viscous liquid sciences into two major research areas, the first dealing with how to avoid crystals and so access the viscous liquid state, and the second dealing with how liquids behave when no crystals form. We review some current efforts to elucidate each area, looking at strategies for vitrification of monatomic metals in the first, and the origin of the property 'fragility' in the second. Essential in the first is the 'ideal glassformer' concept. Essential in the second is the non-trivial behavior of the glassformer thermodynamics. We explore the findings on non-exponential relaxation and dynamic heterogeneities in viscous liquids, emphasizing the way in which direct excitation of the configurational modes has helped differentiate configurational from non-configurational contributions to the excess heat capacity. We then propose a scheme for understanding the relation between inorganic network and non-network glassformers which includes the anomalous case of water as an intermediate. In a final section we examine the additional insights to be gained by study of the glass-like, ergodicity-breaking transitions that occur in disordering crystals. Here we highlight systems in which the background thermodynamics is understood because the ergodic behavior is a lambda transition. Water, and the classical network glassformers, appear to be attenuated versions of the latter type of cooperative transition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4703-4712
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Non-Crystalline Solids
Issue number42-44
StatePublished - Nov 1 2008


  • Calorimetry
  • Enthalpy relaxation
  • Fragility
  • Glass formation
  • Glass transition
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Nucleation
  • Phases and equilibria
  • Silica
  • Special glasses and materials
  • Structural relaxation
  • Thermal properties
  • Transport properties - liquids
  • Viscosity and relaxation
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Chemistry


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