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NMR Non-Crystallography

The Nature of Glass remains anything but clear

While the majority of world-wide glass production focuses on windows and containers, there is a growing demand for improved specialty glasses which have become vital to a large range of technological applica- tions. Despite these expanding needs a major challenge in tailoring the properties of new glass compositions is that we have few quantitative details about the structure of real glasses—and, of course, all macroscopic properties of a glass are a direct result of its underlying structure. A great advantage of solid-state NMR spectroscopy is its ability to reveal and quantify atomic-level structure in materials where diffraction tech- niques fail. This is especially true in glass, where diffraction methods rarely reveal structural details beyond the first-coordination sphere of an atom. While glass spectra in all spectroscopies are generally broad and featureless, magnetic resonance has a unique advantage in that the different spectral contributions leading to these broadenings can be separated and correlated in multi-dimensional spectra. Professor Philip Grandinetti and his lab at OSU aim to fully exploit the multi-dimensional NMR measurements of glasses to determine multi-variate statistical distributions of structures in glasses. Through these distributions it will be possible to learn more about modifier cation clustering behavior, structural models of ionic transport, the mixed alkali effect, chemical strengthening, and phase separation in glasses. These new insights will help glass scientists and engineers working on the next generation of specialty glasses, impacting diverse applications such as handheld electronic devices, displays, optical fibers, glass substrates for lighting, bio-glass implants, and nuclear waste storage.