Imaging Atomic Rearrangements in Two-Dimensional Silica Glass: Watching Silica’s Dance

TitleImaging Atomic Rearrangements in Two-Dimensional Silica Glass: Watching Silica’s Dance
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsHuang, Pinshane Y., Kurasch Simon, Alden Jonathan S., Shekhawat Ashivni, Alemi Alexander A., McEuen Paul L., Sethna James P., Kaiser Ute, and Muller David A.

Structural rearrangements control a wide range of behavior in amorphous materials, and visualizing these atomic-scale rearrangements is critical for developing and refining models for how glasses bend, break, and melt. It is difficult, however, to directly image atomic motion in disordered solids. We demonstrate that using aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy, we can excite and image atomic rearrangements in a two-dimensional silica glass—revealing a complex dance of elastic and plastic deformations, phase transitions, and their interplay. We identified the strain associated with individual ring rearrangements, observed the role of vacancies in shear deformation, and quantified fluctuations at a glass/liquid interface. These examples illustrate the wide-ranging and fundamental materials physics that can now be studied at atomic-resolution via transmission electron microscopy of two-dimensional glasses.


See the Perspective at Structure and motion of a 2D glass, Markus Heyde, Science 342, 201 (2013), and Bending world's thinnest glass shows atoms' dance in the Cornell Chronicle (Anne Ju).