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Glasses are hard, brittle materials, produced by high-temperature mixing followed by rapid cooling. Glasses have an amorphous atomic structure, and are usually made from a fused mixture of oxides, such as lime or silicon dioxide.
The low-frequency collective vibrational modes, known as the boson peak, characterize many glasses at low temperature, yet its origin remains elusive. Zhang et al. show a correlation between the boson peak and the spatial heterogeneity of shear modulus fluctuation in a two-dimensional granular system.
Glass is characterized by stochastic and slow structural relaxation dynamics, whose details remain elusive due to its complicated kinetic processes. Here, the authors show that avalanche-like dynamics in both ageing and devitrifying glasses are governed by thermodynamic initiation and a transient loss in mechanical stability.
The dynamics of a viscous liquid undergo a dramatic slowdown when it is cooled to form a solid glass. Recognizing the structural changes across such a transition remains a major challenge. Machine-learning methods, similar to those Facebook uses to recognize groups of friends, have now been applied to this problem.
Twenty years ago, the 'phonon-glass, electron-crystal' concept changed thinking in thermoelectric materials research, resulting in new high-performance materials and an increased focus on controlling structure and chemical bonding to minimize irreversible heat transport in crystals.