Avalanches mediate crystallization in a hard-sphere glass

Eduardo Sanz, Chantal Valeriani*, Emanuela Zaccarelli, Wilson C. K. Poon, Michael E. Cates, Peter N. Pusey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

By molecular-dynamics simulations, we have studied the devitrification (or crystallization) of aged hard-sphere glasses. First, we find that the dynamics of the particles are intermittent: Quiescent periods, when the particles simply "rattle" in their nearest-neighbor cages, are interrupted by abrupt "avalanches," where a subset of particles undergo large rearrangements. Second, we find that crystallization is associated with these avalanches but that the connection is not straightforward. The amount of crystal in the system increases during an avalanche, but most of the particles that become crystalline are different from those involved in the avalanche. Third, the occurrence of the avalanches is a largely stochastic process. Randomizing the velocities of the particles at any time during the simulation leads to a different subsequent series of avalanches. The spatial distribution of avalanching particles appears random, although correlations are found among avalanche initiation events. By contrast, we find that crystallization tends to take place in regions that already show incipient local order.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-80
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Volume111
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2014

Keywords

  • colloidal glasses
  • ordered solid
  • amorphous solid
  • dynamic heterogeneities
  • HETEROGENEOUS DYNAMICS
  • SUPERCOOLED LIQUIDS
  • CRYSTAL-NUCLEATION
  • METALLIC GLASSES
  • TRANSITION
  • SUSPENSIONS
  • ORDER

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