Mechanisms of anomalous compressibility of vitreous silica

Alisha N. Clark*, Charles E. Lesher, Steven D. Jacobsen, Sabyasachi Sen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The anomalous compressibility of vitreous silica has been known for nearly a century, but the mechanisms responsible for it remain poorly understood. Using GHz-ultrasonic interferometry, we measured longitudinal and transverse acoustic wave travel times at pressures up to 5 GPa in vitreous silica with fictive temperatures (Tf) ranging between 985°C and 1500°C. The maximum in ultrasonic wave travel times-corresponding to a minimum in acoustic velocities-shifts to higher pressure with increasing Tf for both acoustic waves, with complete reversibility below 5 GPa. These relationships reflect polyamorphism in the supercooled liquid, which results in a glassy state possessing different proportions of domains of high- and low-density amorphous phases (HDA and LDA, respectively). The relative proportion of HDA and LDA is set at Tf and remains fixed on compression below the permanent densification pressure. The bulk material exhibits compression behavior systematically dependent on synthesis conditions that arise from the presence of floppy modes in a mixture of HDA and LDA domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number174110
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number17
StatePublished - Nov 20 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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