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For a large variety of systems in nature, the relaxation back to equilibrium—when a system returns to its original state after being disturbed—depends upon the system’s aging processes.
Glasses of all kinds such as silica, electron, spin, etc., are characterized by a rugged, complex energy landscape, with many valleys in which the system can be "trapped." This phenomenon is why slow relaxations and memory effects are often observed in these glass systems.
The image below schematically illustrates the rugged energy landscape of glass.
Image Credit: Ariel Amir (Harvard University), Yuval Oreg and Yoseph Imry. (Weizmann Institute of Science)
This close-up of glass artwork by Dale Chihuly is used to illustrate the rugged energy landscape generically associated with glassy systems.
This image appeared in the March Meeting 2012 Image Gallery. Support was provided by a BMBF DIP grant as well as by ISF and BSF grants and the Center of Excellence Program. Yoseph Imry was also supported by a continuing Humboldt Grant.
March Meeting 2012 Image Gallery
"Huge (but Finite) Time Scales in Slow Relaxations: Beyond Simple Aging," Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 18640 (2011)