Welcome to the Materials Genome Initiative on Engineering Organic Glasses, located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

To see sample data sets click here.

For a description of research methods, click here.

To learn more about our research team, read below.

Research Summary

Prof. Juan J. de Pablo

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Glasses are disordered materials that lack the long-range order of crystals but behave mechanically like solids. Glasses are traditionally prepared by rapid cooling or quenching of a liquid below its melting point. In the absence of crystallization, cooling of liquid leads to slower dynamics, which eventually becomes so slow that the supercooled liquid is unable to remain in equilibrium. The properties of such glassy materials are dependent on the rate of cooling at which they are cooled. Stable low-energy glasses are of interest from both a scientific and an engineering standpoint. A slower cooling rate leads to lower energy glasses. However, the decrease in the energy is only weakly dependent on the cooling rate. Hence, to obtain any significant decrease in energy, several orders of magnitudes of slower cooling rates are required, making the process slow and inconvenient.

Prof. Mark D. Ediger

Department of Chemistry

Recently, a new experimental approach has been developed by the Ediger and Yu research groups to prepare glasses that are considerably more stable than "ordinary" glasses prepared by slow cooling of the liquid. In that approach, small organic molecules, such as 1,3,5-trisnaphthylbenzene (TNB) and indomethacin (IMC), are vapor-deposited onto a cold silica substrate. The resulting material, referred to as a "stable" glass, has a lower enthalpy (by as much as 10 J/g), a higher density (by 0.5-1.5 %) and a significantly higher on-set temperature, suggesting higher kinetic stability of such materials. By simple linear interpolation, an "ordinary" glass sample might need thousands of years of aging to obtain similar properties. The de Pablo research group has developed methods to study these materials using advanced molecular simulations that can enable the study of these materials in a more detailed manner. Using such simulation methods, stable glasses of trehalose have also been prepared.

Prof. Lian Yu

School of Pharmacy

With the combination of experimental, theoretical and computational methods, a wide class of molecules can be used to study such significantly stable glasses. With the help of such extensive tools, we investigate several molecules that can be useful in many real-life applications. For example, stable glasses of liquid crystalline molecules like 4-Cyano-4'-pentylbiphenyl can enable us to prepare a highly stable glassy matrix with orientational order that can be useful in numerous engineering applications.