Contributions to the theoretical understanding of the glass transition
Understanding what causes the transition from undercooled fluids to glasses is one of the grand challenge problems of condensed matter physics, and for many years has been one of the main research topics of the Condensed Matter Theory Group at Mainz, and much of this research even has been condensed in a textbook (K. Binder and W. Kob, Glassy Materials and Disordered Solids: An Introduction to their Statistical Mechanics, 2nd ed., World Scientific, Singapore, 2010). Our recent work on this topic has focused on the analysis of the dynamics of probe molecules inserted as "reporters" into a glassforming matrix, a problem relevant to the analysis of single molecule spectroscopy experiments. This research is done in collaboration with R. Vallee (University of Bordeaux), W. Kob (University of Montpellier II), and W. Paul (Univ. Halle). For more information, please contact Kurt Binder
Glassy dynamics: Dynamical facilitation theory
Most liquids (including water) can be supercooled below their melting temperature and stay in the liquid state. The reason is the presence of a free energy barrier that the system has to overcome in order to crystallize. But some liquids never crystallize and at some temperature fall out of equilibrium. They form what we call a glass, a substance that macroscopically appears as a rigid solid but which microscopically is still disordered like the liquid. A comprehensive theory describing this state of matter is still missing and is one of the major challenges in condensed matter science.
For more information, please contact Thomas Speck.