Chapter

The length scales of dynamic heterogeneity: results from molecular dynamics simulations

Peter Harrowell

in Dynamical Heterogeneities in Glasses, Colloids, and Granular Media

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199691470
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729799 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199691470.003.0007

Series: International Series of Monographs on Physics

The length scales of dynamic heterogeneity: results from molecular dynamics simulations

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Over times shorter than that required for relaxation of enthalpy, a liquid can exhibit striking heterogeneities. The picture of these heterogeneities is complex with transient patches of rigidity, irregular yet persistent, intersected by tendrils of mobile particles, flickering intermittently into new spatial patterns of motion and arrest. The study of these dynamic heterogeneities has, over the last twenty years, allowed us to characterize cooperative dynamics, to identify new strategies in controlling kinetics in glass-forming liquids and to begin to systematically explore the relationship between dynamics and structure that underpins the behaviour of amorphous materials. Computer simulations of the dynamics in atomic and molecular liquids have played a dominant role in all of this progress. While some may be uneasy about this reliance on modelling, it is unavoidable, given the amount of microscopic detail needed to characterize the dynamic heterogeneities. The complexities revealed by these simulations have called for new conceptual tools. this chapter tries to provide the reader with a clear and complete account of how these tools have been developed in terms of the literature on kinetic length scales in molecular dynamics simulations. Through the `prism' of these length scales, this chapter addresses the question what have we learnt about dynamic heterogeneities from computer simulations?

Keywords: glass transition; dynamical heterogeneity; numerical simulations; dynamic length scale

Chapter.  16285 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Mathematical and Statistical Physics

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