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null (Ed.)Despite the numerous technological applications of amorphous materials, such as glasses, the understanding of their medium-range order (MRO) structure—and particularly the origin of the first sharp diffraction peak (FSDP) in the structure factor—remains elusive. Here, we use persistent homology, an emergent type of topological data analysis, to understand MRO structure in sodium silicate glasses. To enable this analysis, we introduce a self-consistent categorization of rings with rigorous geometrical definitions of the structural entities. Furthermore, we enable quantitative comparison of the persistence diagrams by computing the cumulative sum of all points weighted by their lifetime. On the basis of these analysis methods, we show that the approach can be used to deconvolute the contributions of various MRO features to the FSDP. More generally, the developed methodology can be applied to analyze and categorize molecular dynamics data and understand MRO structure in any class of amorphous solids.more » « less
Despite decades of studies, the nature of the glass transition remains elusive. In particular, the sharpness of the dynamical arrest of a melt at the glass transition is captured by its fragility. Here, we reveal that fragility is governed by the medium-range order structure. Based on neutron-diffraction data for a series of aluminosilicate glasses, we propose a measurable structural parameter that features a strong inverse correlation with fragility, namely, the average medium-range distance (
MRD). We use in-situ high-temperature neutron-scattering data to discuss the physical origin of this correlation. We argue that glasses exhibiting low MRDvalues present an excess of small network rings. Such rings are unstable and deform more readily with changes in temperature, which tends to increase fragility. These results reveal that the sharpness of the dynamical arrest experienced by a silicate glass at the glass transition is surprisingly encoded into the stability of rings in its network.
null (Ed.)The rapid equilibrium fluctuations of water molecules are intimately connected to the rheological response; molecular motions resetting the local structure and stresses seen as flow and volume changes. In the case of water or hydrogen bonding liquids generally, the relationship is a non-trivial consideration due to strong directional interactions complicating theoretical models and necessitating clear observation of the timescale and nautre of the associated equilibrium motions. Recent work has illustrated a coincidence of timescales for short range sub-picosecond motions and the implied timescale for the shear viscosity response in liquid water. Here, neutron and light scattering methods are used to experimentally illustrate the timescale of bulk viscosity and provide a description of the associated molecular relaxation. Brillouin scattering has been used to establish the timescale of bulk viscosity; and borrowing the Maxwell approach, the ratio of the bulk viscosity, ζ , to the bulk modulus, K , yields a relaxation time, τ B , which emerges on the order of 1–2 ps in the 280 K to 303 K temperature range. Inelastic neutron scattering is subsequently used to describe the motions of water and heavy water at the molecular scale, providing both coherent and incoherent scattering data. A rotational (alternatively described as localized) motion of water protons on the 1–2 ps timescale is apparent in the incoherent scattering spectra of water, while the coherent spectra from D 2 O on the length scale of the first sharp diffraction peak, describing the microscopic density fluctuations of water, confirms the relaxation of water structure at a comparable timescale of 1–2 ps. The coincidence of these three timescales provides a mechanistic description of the bulk viscous response, with the local structure resetting due to rotational/localized motions on the order of 1–2 ps, approximately three times slower than the relaxations associated with shear viscosity. In this way we show that the shear viscous response is most closely associated with changes in water network connectivity, while the bulk viscous response is associated with local density fluctuations.more » « less
When exposed to water, silicate glasses and minerals can form a hydrated gel surface layer concurrent with a decrease in their dissolution kinetics—a phenomenon known as the “passivation effect.” However, the atomic-scale origin of such passivation remains debated. Here, based on reactive molecular dynamics simulations, we investigate the hydration of a series of modified borosilicate glasses with varying compositions. We show that, upon the aging of the gel, the passivation effect manifests itself as a drop in hydrogen mobility. Nevertheless, only select glass compositions are found to exhibit some passivation. Based on these results, we demonstrate that the passivation effect cannot be solely explained by the repolymerization of the hydrated gel upon aging. Rather, we establish that the propensity for passivation is intrinsically governed by the reorganization of the medium-range order structure of the gel upon aging and, specifically, the formation of small silicate rings that hinder water mobility.
Infrared (IR) and Raman spectroscopic features of silicate glasses are often interpreted based on the analogy with those of smaller molecules, molecular clusters, or crystalline counterparts; this study tests the accuracy and validity of these widely cited peak assignment schemes by comparing vibrational spectral features with bond parameters of the glass network created by molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. A series of sodium silicate glasses with compositions of [Na2O]
x[Al2O3]2[SiO2]98− xwith x= 7, 12, 17, and 22 were synthesized and analyzed with IR and Raman. A silica glass substrate and a crystalline quartz were also analyzed for comparison. Glass structures with the same compositions were generated with MD simulations using three types of potentials: fixed partial charge pairwise (Teter), partial diffuse charge potential (MGFF), and bond order‐based charge transfer potential (ReaxFF). The comparison of simulated and experimental IR spectra showed that, among these three potentials tested, ReaxFF reproduces the concentration dependence of spectral features closest to the experimentally observed trend. Thus, the bond length and angle distributions as well as Si– Qnspecies and ring size distributions of silica and sodium silicate glasses were obtained from ReaxFF‐MD simulations and further compared with the peak assignment or deconvolution schemes—which have been widely used since 1970s and 1980s—(a) correlation between the IR peak position in the Si–O stretch region (1050‐1120 cm−1) and the Si–O–Si bond angle; (b) deconvolution of the Raman bands in the Si–O stretch region with the Qnspeciation; and (c) assignment of the Raman bands in the 420‐600 cm−1region to the bending modes of (SiO) nrings with different sizes (typically, n = 3‐6). The comparisons showed that none of these widely used methods is congruent with the bond parameters or structures of silicate glass networks produced via ReaxFF‐MD simulations. This finding invokes that the adequacy of these spectral interpretation methods must be questioned. Alternative interpretations are proposed, which are to be tested independently in future studies.