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Amorphous structures – ordered disorder

Crystals have a highly ordered structure. This makes them the exact opposite of materials with an amorphous structure. Sounds very scientific, and it actually is. We are talking about glass, for example. How are amorphous structures created in glass?

Well, by heating the glass substance until it is liquid and then letting it cool down rather quickly. This process does not allow the atoms in the material which we want to change into an amorphous state to take on an ordered structure. What this really means: The atoms simply do not have enough time to sort themselves.

Scientists describe amorphous structures as having a lower packing efficiency. That means: The relative density of a material with an amorphous structure is significantly lower than that of a crystalline material, so the coarse order of the atoms in the amorphous structure basically creates unused spaces.

But there are also other ways of transforming a material into an amorphous state and creating an amorphous structure, for example through intensive radiation or ion bombardment. Glass, by the way, is a collective term for amorphous structures – an ideal material for processing with laser technology.

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