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Physics – Defects Management Silica’s Viscosity

• Physics 15, s86

The quirky temperature dependence of liquid silica’s viscosity comes from the liquid equal of crystal defects, in keeping with new simulations.

Z. Yu/College of Wisconsin-Madison

As a glass-forming liquid cools, the jostling of its particles slows, and the fabric turns into extra viscous. In some liquids, the viscosity will increase easily because the temperature decreases. In others, together with water and a few metallic liquids, the viscosity-temperature conduct is extra complicated. The supply of this complexity, which includes an initially massive viscosity rise adopted by a way more gradual change, stays unclear. Now, Zheng Yu of the College of Wisconsin-Madison and his colleagues predict that the temperature dependence of silica’s viscosity is linked to thermally activated crystal-like defects that type within the liquid because it cools [1]. The discovering might result in extra exact management of liquid silica in glass fabrication.

For his or her examine, Yu and his colleagues used machine-learning-based simulations to look at liquid silica’s temperature-dependent movement conduct. Their simulations assign to every of the liquid’s silicon atoms a chance that it’ll change place, or “hop,” relative to its neighbors. From the hopping possibilities, the mannequin then estimates what number of atoms movement via the liquid at a given temperature.

The simulations reveal that liquid silica’s complicated viscosity-temperature conduct arises from a swap within the chance that the atoms hop. Hopping is promoted by defects within the liquid, analogous to level defects in a crystal. The variety of these defects drops rapidly as temperature decreases, resulting in a steep drop within the chance that an atom hops and to a speedy rise within the liquid’s viscosity. Beneath a sure temperature, the defects fully disappear. The chance of the atoms hopping then follows a gradual lower, and the viscosity enhance switches to a gradual rise.

–Rachel Berkowitz

Rachel Berkowitz is a Corresponding Editor for Physics Journal based mostly in Vancouver, Canada.


  1. Z. Yu et al., “Understanding the fragile-to-strong transition in silica from microscopic dynamics,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 129, 018003 (2022).

Topic Areas

Computational PhysicsComfortable Matter

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