Tuesday, July 9, 2013

1307.1842 (Frank Smallenburg et al.)

Liquids more stable than crystals    [PDF]

Frank Smallenburg, Francesco Sciortino
All liquids (except helium due to quantum effects) crystallize at low temperatures, forming ordered structures. The competition between disorder, which stabilizes the liquid phase, and energy, which favors the ordered crystalline structure, inevitably turns in favor of the latter when temperature is lowered and the entropic contribution to the free energy becomes progressively less and less relevant. The "liquid" state survives at low temperatures only as a glass, an out-of-equilibrium arrested state of matter. This textbook description holds inevitably for atomic and molecular systems, where the interaction between particles is set by quantum mechanical laws. The question remains whether the same physics hold for colloidal particles, where inter-particle interactions are usually short-ranged and tunable. Here we show that for patchy colloids with limited valence, conditions can be found for which the disordered liquid phase is stable all the way down to the zero-temperature limit. Our results offer interesting cues for understanding the stability of gels and the glass forming ability of atomic and molecular network glasses.
View original: http://arxiv.org/abs/1307.1842

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