Percolation Model for Slow Dynamics in Glass-Forming Materials

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Entry: Chia Wei Hsu, AP 225, Fall 2010

G. Lois, J. Blawzdziewicz, and C. S. O'Hern, "Percolation Model for Slow Dynamics in Glass-Forming Materials", Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 015702 (2009).


In this work, the authors propose an alternate approach to understand the glass transition. Instead of looking at the real space, they focus on the configuration space of the system. There are mobility regions in the configuration space, and the percolation of these regions corresponds to a glass-to-liquid transition. With a mean-field description of such percolation, they show that the stretched-exponential response functions typical of glassy systems can be explained.


Glassy systems exhibit several unique properties. During a glass transition, the structural relaxation time increases by several orders of magnitude. Also, the structural correlations display an anomalous stretched-exponential time decay: <math>exp(-t/\tau_{\alpha})^{\beta}</math>, where <math>\beta</math> is called the stretching exponent, and <math>\tau_{\alpha}</math> is called the <math>\alpha</math>-relaxation time. Although the stretched-exponential relaxation is universal among glass-forming materials, <math>\beta</math> and <math>\tau_{\alpha}</math> are not. They depend on temperature and density, and they vary from one material to another.

Basic Idea

The basic idea is that, instead of focusing on the heterogeneous dynamics and percolation in real space (the traditional approach), the authors focus on the configuration space and its connection to the anomalous dynamics.

For complete relaxation, the system must be able to diffuse over the whole configuration space. That is, there has to be a path that percolates the configuration space. Thus, we can think of a "percolation transition in the configuration space," which corresponds to the glass transition in real space.

Schematic of allowed regions in configuration space for hard spheres. (a) <math>\phi = \phi_J </math>system is jammed; only jammed states (discrete points in the config space) are allowed. (b)

Hard spheres

Finite energy barriers