The Quest for the Ideal Glass

  • Speaker
  • Ludovic Berthier, Ph.D.Director of Research, French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)
    Laboratoire Charles Coulomb
Date & Time


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Most of the materials around us are structurally disordered, from window glass to emulsions to biological tissues. Scientists have long considered disordered materials as imperfect or defective versions of perfectly ordered crystals. Yet the concept of an ‘ideal’ glass has fascinated scientists for decades. Can such a thing be defined rigorously? Is it possible, or even useful, to prepare quasi-ideal disordered materials?

In this lecture, Ludovic Berthier will describe the world of amorphous materials and why scientists are interested in predicting and tuning their physical properties. The quest for a fundamental understanding of disordered materials has repeatedly led to the idea of an ‘ideal’ glassy state or an ‘optimal’ random structure. Modern theories of disordered systems offer refined descriptions of these elusive concepts but have also raised difficult questions about their applicability for real systems. In the last few years, novel experimental and computational techniques have been developed that bring actual materials much closer to the ideal glass state. This work reveals unexpected physical properties and sheds new light on the very concept of an ideal glass state of matter.

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About the Speaker

Berthier is directeur de recherche at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). He received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from École Normale Supérieure in Lyon, France. He was a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at Oxford University before joining CNRS in 2002. In 2007, he was a visiting scientist at the University of Chicago and from 2019 to 2021 at the University of Cambridge. He works on the statistical mechanics of disordered materials, non-equilibrium systems and soft matter.

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