Dr. Liesbeth Janssen TU/e examines one of the most intriguing unsolved phenomena in physics: the behavior of glassy materials. Unraveling this mystery will bring numerous applications within reach.
In physics, the three best-known states of matter are gas, liquid and solid. But there is also a phase that looks like both a liquid and a solid at the same time: the glass phase. The macroscopic behavior of this phase doesn’t seem to match with the material’s atomic structure at all; while the material feels hard, it lacks a regular crystalline structure. Physicists still cannot explain the transition from a liquid to this special solid form; to this day it remains a mystery.
Since 2012, theoretical physicist dr. Liesbeth Janssen tries to better understand and eventually solve the phenomenon. She works on the development of an entirely new theory – though based on existing theories like the Mode Coupling Theory – that should predict where and how the transition to the glass phase occurs based on a single input: the structure of the material. Solving the glass mystery will bring numerous applications within reach, like fast-working computer chips or recyclable plastic. The glass phase can even help us get a better grasp on mechanisms behind asthma and cancer metastasis.