Presentation slides are now online within the schedule

Glassy or amorphous structures are found in a surprisingly broad range of solids, from structural materials like polymer, dipolar, and metallic glasses to "soft" colloidal glasses, biomolecular networks and granular media as well as magnetic materials (spin glasses). The mechanical behaviour of such materials is a fundamental challenge to statistical and condensed matter physics, and of great practical importance in engineering applications. This workshop is part of the PITP collaborative research network on "Complex Systems", bringing together experimentalists and theorists trying to elucidate the non-equilibrium behaviour of such disordered materials.

Main themes

  1. New ideas for understanding the glass transition. Quantum glasses vs classical glasses
  2. Formation and importance of dynamical heterogeneities
  3. Extensions of equilibrium stat. mech concepts to glassy dynamics: effective temperatures and related concepts
  4. Mechanical behaviour of amorphous solids: Hysteresis, Aging, Shear localization. The low-T limiting behaviour
  5. Structural glasses vs spin glasses
  6. Glassy physics in biological systems (single molecule, networks)

More details

The nonequilibrium dynamics of disordered systems presents a fundamental challenge to physics. Frustration, be it self-generated as in structural glasses, or quenched as in spin-glasses, gives rise to slow dynamics, aging, spatial heterogeneity, etc, requiring extensions of equilibrium statistical mechanical concepts to far from equilibrium situations. Glassy behavior is found in a wide range of condensed matter systems including polymers, metallic alloys, magnetic spin glasses, disordered insulators, and many soft materials such as colloids, foams, emulsions or other complex fluids. Many biological systems, most importantly protein, also exhibit glassy phenomena. The nature of the glass transition itself (as a thermodynamic or kinetic phenomenon) is still unresolved.

Unlike crystalline systems, the mechanical properties of structural glasses are not dominated by topological defects such as dislocations. The microscopic mechanism of deformation in such amorphous solids is still unknown. Possible mathematical approaches include (free) energy landscape pictures, mean field rate equations, and computer modeling and simulations of atomistic and coarse-grained models. Fruitful parallels can be drawn between structural glasses and spin glasses. Through work on simplified models, the notion of temperature has been extended to systems with nonstationary dynamics.

At low temperatures quantum effects take over - remarkably, glasses show universal properties at low T and their dynamics continues to change even down to 1 mK. A broad range of speakers will therefore contrast our understanding of the behavior of disordered solids and other complex materials at high T to quantum glasses at low T. The speakers will provide theoretical, experimental and computational perspectives, providing a unique opportunity to identify common threads and differences and stimulate fruitful discussions and collaborations.

We thank our sponsors:

Joerg Rottler, UBC
Malcolm Kennett, SFU
Philip Stamp, UBC