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Prof. Daniel Sussman receives NSF-CAREER award to study “Dynamics and thermodynamics of ultra-strong glassformers”


In his CAREER award. Prof. Sussman pursues an integrated program of theoretical research, computational study, and educational activity on a novel type of disordered solids, ``ultra-strong glasses''. What makes a material a solid? Crystalline materials have their atoms and molecules organized into neatly repeating patterns -- breaking up these repeating patterns costs energy, and the result is a material that resists deformation, that is, one that is solid. Glassy materials -- which can be made from silica as in ordinary window glass but also many other polymeric, molecular, or colloidal liquids -- are quite different: unlike orderly crystals their components are disordered, and their viscosity can vary enormously when their temperature is varied very slightly. These materials start out looking and behaving like a liquid but quickly become more and more sluggish as the temperature is decreased until, eventually, their motion is so imperceptible and the time for the molecules to flow around each other is so long that the whole system acts like a solid rather than a liquid.