Is time 'reversible' in glass materials? Scientists report evidence

According to a study published in the scientific journal Nature Physics, a team of scientists in Germany discovered an impressive phenomenon when investigating aging processes in different materials. After the analyses, Physicists have found evidence that movements of molecules in glass or plastic are time-reversible when observed from a specific perspective.

The team of physicists from the Technical University of Darmstadt, in Germany, and the University of Roskilde, in Denmark, found the phenomenon when investigating the aging process in certain materials.

They explain that most laws of physics don't care about time. Like this, found clues which contradict the idea that the aging process is potentially irreversible, at least at the molecular level.

The image shows the glass used by physicists during the laboratory experiment.Source: Technical University of Darmstadt

By analyzing some materials at the microscopic level, scientists discovered that substances such as glass can undergo aging that can be reversible. Instead of following a path in a single direction, the glass particles move and interact with each other to form different arrangements over time.

“You might think that the aging of materials is as irreversible as breaking glass. However, by researching the movements of molecules in glass or plastic, physicists from Darmstadt have now discovered that these movements are time-reversible if observed from a certain perspective,” the researchers describe in an official statement from the Technical University of Darmstadt.

Reversible time in glass

By shining a laser at glass during a laboratory experiment, physicists realized that the molecules within the material scattered the light; These dispersed beams overlapped and formed a chaotic pattern of light and dark spots on the ultrasensitive video camera used to observe the experiment. In this way, they discovered that the fluctuations of molecules are reversible in time.

The illustration above shows the steps of the experiment.The illustration above shows the steps of the experiment.Source: Technical University of Darmstadt / Nature Physics

In any case, it is important to highlight that the aging of glass materials cannot be reversed. This is a property at the molecular level, but it does not mean that scientists would be able to make glass look new after the aging process. — so, a glass plate cannot be 'unbroken'. In other words, it is a specific time scale, which does not contribute to aging.

The physicist and one of the study's authors, Till Böhmer, explains that the phenomenon was categorized with the concept 'material time', which affects the material at the molecular level, but does not alter its natural aging process.

“The aging process can be described by what is known as 'material time'. Imagine it this way: the material has an internal clock that works differently from the clock on the laboratory wall. The material’s time passes at a different speed depending on how quickly the molecules within the material reorganize,” the statement adds.

Always stay up to date with the latest discoveries in physics here at TecMundo. If you wish, take the opportunity to learn about the theory that describes the hidden change of state between liquids and solids.

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