Molecular blend creates super stable glass – sciencedaily


Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have successfully created a new type of super stable and durable glass with potential applications ranging from drugs to advanced digital displays and solar cell technology. The study shows how mixing several molecules – up to eight at a time – can result in a material that performs as well as the best glass formers known today.

Glass, also known as an “amorphous solid,” is a material that does not have an orderly structure at long distances – it does not form a crystal. Crystalline materials, on the other hand, are those with a very orderly and repeating pattern. The fact that a glass does not contain crystals is what makes it useful.

The materials that we commonly refer to as “glass” in everyday life are primarily made from silicon dioxide, but glass can be formed from many different materials. Researchers are therefore always interested in finding new ways to encourage different materials to form this amorphous state, which can potentially lead to the development of new types of glass with improved properties and new applications. The new study, recently published in the scientific journal Scientists progress, represents an important step in this research.

“Now we have suddenly opened up the potential to create new and better glassy materials, by simply mixing together many different molecules. Those who work with organic molecules know that using mixtures of two or three different molecules can help form one drink, but few would have expected that adding more molecules, and that number, would achieve such superior results, ”said Professor Christian Müller from the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the ‘Chalmers University, who led the research team behind the study.

Best result for any glass forming material

Glass is formed when a liquid is cooled without undergoing crystallization, a process called vitrification. The use of mixtures of two or three molecules to promote glass formation is a well-established concept. However, the impact of mixing a multitude of molecules on the ability to form a glass has received little attention.

The researchers experimented with a mixture of up to eight different perylene molecules that individually have great brittleness – a property related to the ease with which a material forms glass. But mixing the many molecules together resulted in a substantial decrease in brittleness, and a very strong glass former with ultra-low brittleness was formed.

“The brittleness of the glass we created in the study is very low, which represents the best glass-forming ability that has been measured not only for any organic material, but also for polymers and inorganic materials. such as loose metallic glasses. The results are even superior to the glass forming capacity of ordinary window glass, one of the best glass formers we know, “says Sandra Hultmark, PhD student in the Department of Chemistry and Science. chemical engineering and lead author of the study.

Extend product life and save resources

Important applications for more stable organic glasses are display technologies such as OLED screens and renewable energy technologies such as organic solar cells.

“OLEDs are built with glassy layers of light-emitting organic molecules. If they were more stable, it could improve the durability of an OLED and ultimately the display,” says Sandra Hultmark.

Another application that can benefit from more stable glasses are pharmaceuticals. Amorphous drugs dissolve faster, which facilitates the rapid absorption of the active ingredient upon ingestion. Therefore, many pharmaceuticals use drug formations forming glass. For pharmaceuticals, it is essential that the glassy material does not crystallize over time. The more stable the glassy drug, the longer the shelf life of the drug.

“With more stable glasses or new glass materials, we could extend the life of a large number of products, offering savings in terms of resources and economy”, explains Christian Müller.

Learn more about research

  • The researchers chose to work with a series of conjugated small molecules comprising a perylene core with different alkyl groups pendent at one of the bay positions. The eight perylene derivatives crystallize easily when cast from solution and exhibit a brittleness greater than 70.
  • The blend of eight perylene derivatives resulted in a material that exhibits a brittleness of only 13, which is a record value for all glass materials investigated to date, including polymers and inorganic materials such as bulk metallic glasses. and silicon dioxide.
  • The research project was funded by the Swedish Research Council, the European Research Council, as well as the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation through the project: Mastering Morphology for Solution-born Electronics.

Source of the story:

Material provided by Chalmers University of Technology. Original written by Jenny Holmstrand and Johsua Worth. Note: Content can be changed for style and length.

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