Perspective: The glass transition

Biroli, Giulio; Garrahan, Juan P.
March 2013
Journal of Chemical Physics;Mar2013, Vol. 138 Issue 12, p12A301
Academic Journal
We provide here a brief perspective on the glass transition field. It is an assessment, written from the point of view of theory, of where the field is and where it seems to be heading. We first give an overview of the main phenomenological characteristics, or 'stylised facts,' of the glass transition problem, i.e., the central observations that a theory of the physics of glass formation should aim to explain in a unified manner. We describe recent developments, with a particular focus on real space properties, including dynamical heterogeneity and facilitation, the search for underlying spatial or structural correlations, and the relation between the thermal glass transition and athermal jamming. We then discuss briefly how competing theories of the glass transition have adapted and evolved to account for such real space issues. We consider in detail two conceptual and methodological approaches put forward recently, that aim to access the fundamental critical phenomenon underlying the glass transition, be it thermodynamic or dynamic in origin, by means of biasing of ensembles, of configurations in the thermodynamic case, or of trajectories in the dynamic case. We end with a short outlook.


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