The Atomic Structure of Glass: Structural Investigations of Two-Dimensional Silica
Associate Professor Kristen Burson; Department of Physics, Grinnell College
Nanomaterials present an exciting pathway towards new technologies for modern electronics and tailored chemical processes. These materials can also provide a simplified model for understanding complex systems. Here I’ll present a study using two-dimensional silica to unravel long-standing questions about the atomic structure of glass. Glass is a pervasive material in daily life, from windows, to fiber optics, to kitchen ware. Due to the abundant utility of glass there is much interest in answering the question: “What is the atomic structure of glass?” For crystalline materials, diffraction techniques can be used to determine the atomic configuration. But glass evades definitive atomic structure determination with the same techniques because it is complex and amorphous. In this talk I’ll discuss work to evaluate the atomic structure of glass using scanning probe microscopy. I’ll show atomic resolution images of bilayer silica (SiO2), a model for glass, and present an assessment of the structure of model glass. The talk will also explore applications of two-dimensional bilayer silica for understanding confined space reactions.
About the speaker: Kristen Burson is an experimental physicist whose research focuses on the nano-structure of materials. Her work includes high-resolution structural studies of nanoelectronics, photovoltaics, and glass and has been published in journals such as Physical Review Letters and Nano Letters. She conducted research at the Fritz-Haber Institute of the Max Plank Society in Berlin, Germany through an Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellowship award. Burson earned her bachelor's degree from Gustavus Adolphus College and her Ph.D. in physics from the University of Maryland-College Park. She is currently an associate professor of physics at Grinnell College.