Structure of amorphous materials clarified. This project has so far been a big challenge due to the complexity of this material class. Modern preparation methods in combination with scanning tunneling microscopy succeed in decrypting the everyday material glass. Fig. 1: Comparison of the structure of crystalline and amorphous materials. Illustration (a) shows a crystalline silicate sample next to an amorphous one. Both samples are optically transparent. W.H. Zachariasen’s postulate for crystalline (b) and amorphous (c) structures in a two-dimensional representation is depicted here following the example of reference . © Fritz Haber Institute / Heyde Glass ranks as one of the most important materials of our age. You have only to think about smartphones, or drinking glasses, or look out of the window to realise that glass in its various forms is omnipresent. Fibre-optic cables transport our emails and research work out into the world, and buildings without architectural window glass are hardly conceivable nowadays. Glass plays an important role in everyday life without us being aware of its complex structure. The most common types of glass are based on silicon dioxide. Its structure is taken as the prototype for amorphous networks. The term glass is used synonymously for amorphous materials here.
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