Heterogeneity and solid-like structures found near the glass transition provide a key to a better understanding of supercooled liquids and of the glass transition. However, the formation of solid-like structures and its effect on spatial heterogeneity in supercooled liquids is neither well documented nor well understood. In this work, we reveal the crystalline nature of the solid-like structures in supercooled glycerol by means of neutron scattering. The results indicate that inhomogeneous nucleation happens at temperatures near T(g). Nevertheless, the thermal history of the sample is essential for crystallization. This implies such structures in supercooled liquids strongly depend on thermal history. Our work suggests that different thermal histories may lead to different structures and therefore to different length and time scales of heterogeneity near the glass transition.
© 2012 American Institute of Physics
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