The remarkable kinetic slowdown experienced by liquids as they are cooled toward their glass transition is not accompanied by any obvious structural change. Understanding the origin of this behavior is a major scientific challenge. At present, this area of condensed matter theory is characterized by an abundance of divergent viewpoints that attempt to describe well-defined physical phenomena. We review representative theoretical views on the unusual kinetics of liquid supercooling, which fall into two broad competing categories: thermodynamic and kinetic. In the former, an apparent “ideal,” thermodynamic, glass transition caused by rapid loss of entropy in the supercooled liquid underlies kinetic slowdown; in the latter, purely kinetic constraints are responsible for loss of ergodicity. The possible existence of an ideal thermodynamic glass transition is discussed and placed in its proper statistical mechanical context.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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