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The Ultimate Fate of Supercooled Liquids

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journal contribution
posted on 28.04.2011, 00:00 by Jacob D. Stevenson, Peter G. Wolynes
In recent years it has become widely accepted that a dynamical length scale ξα plays an important role in supercooled liquids near the glass transition. We examine the implications of the interplay between the growing ξα and the size of the crystal nucleus, ξM, which shrinks on cooling. We argue that at low temperatures where ξα > ξM a new crystallization mechanism emerges, enabling rapid development of a large scale web of sparsely connected crystallinity. Though we predict this web percolates the system at too low a temperature to be easily seen in the laboratory, there are noticeable residual effects near the glass transition that can account for several previously observed unexplained phenomena of deeply supercooled liquids including Fischer clusters and anomalous crystal growth near Tg.