Molecular transport in liquids and glasses

Moreel H. Cohen, David Turnbull

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3533 Scopus citations


We have derived, by using simple considerations, a relation between the diffusion constant D in a liquid of hard spheres and the "free volume" vf. This derivation is based on the concept that statistical redistribution of the free volume occasionally opens up voids large enough for diffusive displacement. The relation is D = A exp [-yv*/vf], where v* is the minimum required volume of the void and A and gamma; are constants. This equation is of the same form as Doolittle's [J. Appl. Phys. 22, 1471 (1951)] empirical relation between the fluidity φ of simple hydrocarbons and their free volume. It has been shown [Williams, Landel, and Ferry, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 77, 3701 (1955)] that the Doolittle equation also can be adapted to describe the abrupt decrease in molecular kinetic constants with decreasing temperature that accompanies the glass transition in certain liquids. Our result predicts that even the simplest liquids would go through this glass transition if sufficiently undercooled and crystallization did not occur. The problem of transport in actual simple and network liquids also is discussed. It is shown that data on self-diffusion in some simple van der Waals liquids and liquid metals are described satisfactorily by our relation with v* near the molecular volume for the van der Waals liquids and near the volume of the ion, corresponding to the highest valence state, for the metals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1164-1169
Number of pages6
JournalThe Journal of chemical physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1959
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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