Never-before-Seen Liquid Phase of Glass Heralds a New Class of Materials

Researchers have discovered a new phase of glass that creates an ultrathin layer of liquid that produces high-density glass. The new version is thicker and more stable though still extremely slim and the team believes it can be hired as a new component. The method can also be used in other non-glassy materials, making an ultra-thin film of glass, according to a report by the National Academy of Sciences of Processing. Glass is a formless solid, which means it looks like a liquid in the way the molecules are arranged but it behaves like a solid.

But when glass is made into films that are only nanometers in thickness, these fluid-like properties are dominant and often lead to degradation and instability. These films are used in OLED screens and optical fibers. The ultimate method of cooling liquid glass in these ultrathin films, but Dr. Yee Jin, working in the lab at the Zahra Fakhrai University of Pennsylvania, made them by turning a glass vapor into a solid instead. Unconventional approaches have yielded unexpected results. The ultrathin film represents a different liquid phase for glass and has a higher density than its crystals. These films do not suffer from the limitations created by the traditional theatrical method.

First author Dr. Fakhraai, associated professor of Chemistry at the University, said in a statement, “Yi kept discovering different features, no information was comprehensible, and so we dug deeper until we had enough information to hold a picture.” 

“There are a lot of interesting features that don’t come out of nowhere and no one thinks you’ll be able to see these stages in a thin film. This is a new kind of material.” This comes to the confirmation of a new stage by looking at how the molecules are organized in the material. Just like a pencil and graphite in a diamond – both are made of carbon atoms but in different configurations. Thanks to equipment from Brookhaven National Laboratory, they have confirmed that this is not a crystal but a newly reported liquid episode of glass. And, perhaps, it is not exclusive to glass.