Letter | Published:

Random Heap Structure of Liquids

Naturevolume 212page278 (1966) | Download Citation



BERNAL1 has proposed a theory for the geometrical structure of liquids in which the arrangement of the atoms is totally irregular but nonetheless capable of being described by statistical means. In terms of a hard sphere model, Bernal postulates that liquids consist of close packed random heaps of spherical atoms, for which the volume packing density pv is 0.637 (pv is 0.741 for crystalline closest packing). On this basis, all liquids should have roughly similar structures characterized by this single value of pv. This does not, however, rule out the likelihood of local structural differences between different liquids arising from the partial retention of crystalline structure, for the co-ordination type may change considerably yet be accompanied by only minor changes of packing parameter.

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    Bernal, J. D., in Liquids: Structure, Properties, Solid Interactions, edit. by Hughel, T. J., 25 (Elsevier, Amsterdam, London, New York, 1965).

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  1. Department of Metallurgy, University of Cambridge

    • W. A. MILLER


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