Free-volume model of the amorphous phase: Glass transition

David Turnbull, Morrel H. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1079 Scopus citations


Free volume vf is defined as that part of the thermal expansion, or excess volume Δv̄ which can be redistributed without energy change. Assuming a Lennard-Jones potential function for a molecule within its cage in the condensed phase, it can be shown that at small Δv̄ considerable energy is required to redistribute the excess volume; however, at Δv̄ considerably greater than some value Δv̄g (corresponding to potentials within the linear region), most of the volume added can be redistributed freely. The transition from glass to liquid may be associated with the introduction of appreciable free volume into the system. Free volume will be distributed at random within the amorphous phase and there is a contribution to the entropy from this randomness which is not present in the entropy of the crystalline phase. According to our model all liquids would become glasses at sufficiently low temperature if crystallization did not intervene. Therefore whether or not a glass forms is determined by the crystallization kinetic constants and the cooling rate of the liquid. The experience on the glass formation is consistent with the generalization: at a given level of cohesive energy the glass-forming tendency of a substance in a particular class is greater the less is the ratio of the energy to the entropy of crystallization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-125
Number of pages6
JournalThe Journal of chemical physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1961
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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