Workshop Presentation

 Materials can exhibit a plethora of solid state phases. From a structural point of view, the crystalline and amorphous ones are the most significant. The difference between them is due to the way in which the structural units arrange in space: crystals are characterised by long range order, while amorphous matter is disordered.  

Among all the existing amorphous systems, glassy and polymeric materials are certainly the most popular since when early tribes discovered and shaped glasses formed by nature (obsidians, fulgurites, etc.) and natural organic polymers (waxes, horns, rubber, resins, etc.).

 Glasses are not an equilibrium phase, implying that eventually they will move to equilibrium, i.e. they will crystallize. Due to the high viscosity of the glassy state, this transformation to equilibrium occurs at such slow rate that a glass is referred to as "semi"- equilibrium state.

 Glass formation can also be viewed as an intrinsic property of all liquids, including water and aqueous solutions, given only that the formation of the crystalline phase is substantially avoided during, for instance, cooling or drying. Examples of well-known and thoroughly studied molecules that can undergo glass transitions can be found in the food and polymer science, and include sugars, proteins and complex food systems.

 In the last two centuries, the research towards the natural/synthetic production of functional glasses and polymers received a huge thrust for all the applications they are involved in. For example glasses are used for the production of lenses, optical fibers, solid-state memories, etc. while polymers applications include aerospace and automotive industries, electronics, packaging, medical devices, etc. Since crystalline and amorphous phases are characterized by very different physico-chemical properties, the interest in understanding these discrepancies is increasingly spreading from both theoretical and applicative points of view.

The workshop "GLASSES AND POLYMERS: THE SCIENCE OF DISORDER"is aimed to discuss and highlight the historical and recent developments of disordered state science. Students, researchers and professors will have the opportunity to join an unique international event, where recognized scientists will present the main features and challenges of this fascinating research areas.