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Revealing Key Structural Features Hidden in Liquids and Glasses
Hajime Tanaka, Hua Tong, Rui Shi, John Russo
A great success of solid state physics comes from the characterization of crystal structures in the reciprocal (wave vector) space. The power of structural characterization in Fourier space originates from the breakdown of translational and rotational symmetries. However, unlike crystals, liquids and amorphous solids possess continuous translational and rotational symmetries on a macroscopic scale, which makes Fourier space analysis much less effective. Lately, several studies have revealed local breakdown of translational and rotational symmetries even for liquids and glasses. Here, we review several mathematical methods used to characterize local structural features of apparently disordered liquids and glasses in real space. We distinguish two types of local ordering in liquids and glasses: energy-driven and entropy-driven. The former, which is favoured energetically by symmetry-selective directional bonding, is responsible for anomalous behaviours commonly observed in water-type liquids such as water, silicon, germanium and silica. The latter, which is often favoured entropically, shows connections with the heterogeneous, slow dynamics found in hard-sphere-like glass-forming liquids. We also discuss the relationship between such local ordering and crystalline structures and its impact on glass-forming ability.