dc.description.abstract | One of the most important and interesting unsolved problems of science is the nature of glassy dynamics and the glass transition. It is quite an old problem, and starting from the early20th century there have been many efforts towards a sound understanding of the phenomenon. As a result, there are a number of theories in the field, which do not entirely contradict each other, but between which the connection is not entirely clear. In the last couple of decades or so, there has been significant progress and currently we do understand many facets of the problem. But a unified theoretical framework for the varied phenomena associated with glassiness is still lacking.
Mode-coupling theory, an extreaordinarily popular approach, came from Götze and co-workers in the early eighties. The theory was originally developed to describe the two¬ step decay of the time-dependent correlation functions in a glassy fluid observed near the glass transition temperature(Tg). The theory went beyond that and made a number of quantitative predictions that can be tested in experiments and simulations. However, one of the drawback of the theory is its prediction of a strong ergodic to non-ergodic transition at a temperature TMCT; no such transition exists in real systems at the temperatures at which MCT predicts it. Consequently, the predictions of the theory like the power-law divergences of the transport quantities (e.g., viscosity and relaxation time) fail at low enough temperature and the theory can not be used below TMCT. It is well understood now that MCT is some sort of a mean-field theory of the real phenomenon, and in real systems the transition predicted by MCT is at best avoided due to finite dimensions and activated processes, neither of which is taken into account in standard MCT. Despite its draw backs, even the most severe critic of the theory will be impressed by its power and the predictions in a regime where it works. Even though the non-ergodic transition predicted by the theory is averted, the MCT mechanism for the increase of viscosity and relaxation time is actually at work in real systems. The status of MCT for glass transition is ,perhaps, similar to the Curie-Weiss theory of magnetic phase transition and it will require hard work and perhaps a conceptual breakthrough to go beyond this mean-field picture. Discussion
of such a theoretical framework and its possible directions are, however, beyond the scope of this thesis.
In the first part of this work, we have extended the mode coupling theory to three important physical situations: the properties of fluids under strong confinement, a sheared fluid and for the growth kinetics of glassy domains. In the second part, we have studied a different class of non equilibrium phenomenon in arrested systems, the fluctuation relations for yielding.
In the first chapter, we talk about some general phenomenology of the glass transition problem and a few important concepts in the field. Then we briefly discuss the physical problems to be addressed in detail later on in the thesis followed by a brief account of some of the important existing theories in the field. This list is by no means exhaustive but is intended to give a general idea of the theoretical status of the problem. We conclude this chapter with a detailed derivation of MCT and its successes and failures. This derivation is supposed to serve as a reference for the details of the calculations in later chapters.
The second chapter deals with a simple theory of an important problem of lubrication and dynamics of fluid at nanoscopic scales. When a fluid is confined between two smooth surfaces down to a few molecular layers and an normal force is applied on the upper surface, it is found that one layer of fluid gets squeezed out of the geometry at a time. The theory to explain this phenomenon came from Persson and Tosatti. However, due to a mathematical error, the in-plane viscosity term played no role in the original calculation. We re-do this calculation and show that the theory is actually more powerful than was suggested originally by its proponents.
In the third chapter, we work out a detailed theory for the dynamics of fluid under strong planar confinement. This theory is based on mode-coupling theory. The walls in our theory enter in terms of an external potential that impose a static inhomogeneous background density. The interaction of the density fluctuation with this static background density makes the fluid sluggish. The theory explains how the fluid under strong confinement can undergo a glassy transition at a higher temperature or lower density than the corresponding bulk fluid as has been found in experiments and simulations. One of the interesting findings of the theory is the three-step relaxation that has also been found in a variety of other cases.
The fourth chapter consists of a mode-coupling calculation of a sheared fluid through the microscopic approach first suggested by Zaccarelli et al[J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 14,2413(2002)]. The various assumptions of the theory are quite clear in this approach. The main aim of this calculation is to understand how FDR enters with in the theory. The only new result is the modified form of Yvon-Born-Green(YBG) equations for a sheared fluid. Then we extend the theory for the case of a confined fluid under steady shear and show that a confined fluid will show shear thinning at a much lower shear rate than the bulk fluid.
When a system is quenched past a phase transition point, phase ordering kinetics begins. The properties of the system show “aging” with time, and the characteristic length scale of the quenched system grows as one waits. The analogous question for glasses has also been asked in the contexts of various numerical and experimental works. We formulate a theory in chapter five for rationalizing these findings. We find that MCT, surprisingly, offers an answer to this key question in glass forming liquids. The challenge of this theory is that care must be taken in using some equilibrium relations like the fluctuation-dissipation relation(FDR), which is one of the key steps in most of the derivations of MCT. We find that the qualitative, and some times even the quantitative, picture is in agreement with numerical findings. A similar calculation for the spin-glass case also predicts increase of the correlation volume with the waiting time, but with a smaller exponent than the structural glass case. We extended this theory to the case of shear and find that shear cuts off the growth of the length-scale of glassy correlations when the waiting time becomes of the order of the inverse shear rate. For the case of sheared fluid, if we take the limit of the infinite waiting time, the system will reach a steady state. Then, the resulting theory will describe a fluid in sheared steady state. The advantage of this theory over the existing mode-coupling theories for a sheared fluid is that FDR has not been used in any stage. This is an important development since the sheared steady state is driven away from equilibrium. Interestingly, the theory captures a suitably-defined effective temperature and gives results that are consistent with numerical experiments of steady state fluids(both glass and granular materials).
We give the details of a theoretical model for jamming and large deviations in micellar gel in the sixth chapter. This theory is motivated by experiments. Through the main ingredient of the attachment-detachment kinetics and some simple rules for the dynamics, the theory is capable of capturing all the experimental findings. The novel prediction of this work is that in a certain parameter range, the fluctuation relations may be violated although the large deviation function exists. We argue that a wider class of physical systems can be understood in terms of the present theory.
In the final chapter, we summarize the problems studied in this thesis and point out some future directions. | en_US |