Glass-forming liquids, anomalous liquids, and polyamorphism in liquids and biopolymers

Charles Angell, P. H. Poole, J. Shao

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91 Scopus citations


Glass formation in nature and materials science is reviewed and the recent recognition of polymorphism within the glassy state, polyamorphism, is discussed. The process by which the glassy state originates during the continuous cooling or viscous slowdown process, is examined and the three canonical characteristics of relaxing liquids are correlated through the fragility. The conversion of strong liquids to fragile liquids by pressure-induced coordination number increases is discussed, and then it is shown that for the same type of system it is possible to have the same conversion accomplished via a first-order transition within the liquid state. The systems in which this can happen are of the same type which exhibit polyamorphism, and the whole phenomenology can be accounted for by a recent simple modification of the van der Waals model for tetrahedrally bonded liquids. The concept of complex amorphous systems which can lose a significant number of degrees of freedom through weak first-order transitions is then used to discuss the relation between native and denatured hydrated proteins, since the latter have much in common with plasticized chain polymer systems. Finally, we close the circle by taking a short-time-scale phenomenon given much attention by protein physicists, viz., the onset of an anomaly in the Debye-Waller factor with increasing temperature, and showing that for a wide variety of liquids, including computer-simulated strong and fragile ionic liquids, this phenomenon is closely correlated with the experimental glass transition temperature. This implies that the latter owes its origin to the onset of strong anharmonicity in certain components of the vibrational density of states (evidently related to the boson peak) which then permits the system to gain access to its configurational degrees of freedom. The more anharmonic these vibrational components, the closer to the Kauzmann temperature will commence the exploration of configuration space and, for a given configurational microstate degeneracy, the more fragile the liquid will be.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)993-1025
Number of pages33
JournalIl Nuovo Cimento D
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 1994


  • Amorphous materials
  • Conference proceedings
  • Glass transitions
  • Liquid-liquid transitions
  • Molecular dyanamics, conformational changes, and pattern recognition in biomolecules
  • glasses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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