Weeks Lab Research

For phase transitions and fluid dynamics, there are significant qualitative differences between two dimensions and three dimensions. However, it has been long assumed that the glass transition is similar in two and three dimensions.  In this work, Emory graduate student Skanda Vivek (Ph.D., December 2016) and Prof. Eric Weeks analyzed experimental data from 2D and 3D colloidal systems near their glass transitions.  They found qualitative differences between 2D and 3D data, in agreement with recent simulations.  Significantly, their work showed that the differences between two dimensions and three dimensions are due to long-wavelength fluctuations, precisely those that distinguish 2D and 3D phase transitions.  They then showed that the influence of these fluctuations can be disentangled from the underlying dynamics, and that 2D and 3D glass transitions are otherwise similar.

This research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:
Skanda Vivek, Colm P. Kelleher, Paul M. Chaikin, and Eric R. Weeks. PNAS. 2017, 114(8), 1850-1855.  DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1607226113.
Link: http://www.pnas.org/content/114/8/1850.abstract

Commentary about this article (Tarjus, PNAS early online, 2017).  DOI:  10.1073/pnas.1700193114.
Link: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/02/24/1700193114

Three colloidal examples