Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Defining the Glass Transition Phase

We often treat glass as a simple material. However it is a very complex and as yet not fully understood material. One of the most curious aspects is the transition between plastic and solid states. This is the temperature range of glass annealing – called the glass transition by scientists. This note comes largely from "Glass Properties" produced by Schott. The text in brackets [ ] is my additional explanation.

The glass transition comprises a smooth but very large increase in the viscosity of the material. Despite the massive change in the physical properties of a material through its glass transition, the transition is not itself a phase transition  of any kind [in this case from a liquid to a solid] and involves discontinuities in thermodynamic and dynamic properties such as volume, energy, and viscosity.

Below the transition temperature range, the glassy structure does not relax in accordance with the cooling rate used. The expansion coefficient for the glassy state is roughly equivalent to that of the crystalline solid. [Thus the CoE, which is taken as an average of expansion per degree Celsius over the range of 0C to 300C, is an inadequate guide to how the glass will behave at the glass transition and higher temperatures.]

Glass is believed to exist in a kinetically locked state, and its entropy, density, and so on, depend on the thermal history. Therefore, the glass transition is primarily a dynamic phenomenon. Time and temperature are interchangeable quantities (to some extent) when dealing with glasses.

[Viscosity shows a relatively regular change with temperature changes.] In contrast to viscosity, the thermal expansion, heat capacity, shear modulus, and many other properties of inorganic glasses show a relatively sudden change at the glass transition temperature. Any such step or kink can be used to define Tg [the transition phase of glass].  To make this definition reproducible, the cooling or heating rate must be specified.