Long-wavelength fluctuations and the glass transition in two dimensions and three dimensions

Skanda Vivek, Colm P. Kelleher, Paul M. Chaikin, Eric R. Weeks

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Phase transitions significantly differ between 2D and 3D systems, but the influence of dimensionality on the glass transition is unresolved. We use microscopy to study colloidal systems as they approach their glass transitions at high concentrations and find differences between two dimensions and three dimensions. We find that, in two dimensions, particles can undergo large displacements without changing their position relative to their neighbors, in contrast with three dimensions. This is related to Mermin-Wagner long-wavelength fluctuations that influence phase transitions in two dimensions. However, when measuring particle motion only relative to their neighbors, two dimensions and three dimensions have similar behavior as the glass transition is approached, showing that the long-wavelength fluctuations do not cause a fundamental distinction between 2D and 3D glass transitions.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1850-1855
    Number of pages6
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Issue number8
    StatePublished - Feb 21 2017


    • Colloidal glass transition
    • Dimensionality
    • Long-wavelength fluctuations
    • Phase transition
    • Two-dimensional physics

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General


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