New Simons Collaboration: Cracking the Glass Problem


The Simons Foundation is pleased to announce the establishment of the Simons Collaboration on Cracking the Glass Problem, directed by Sidney Nagel of the University of Chicago. Simons Collaborations bring together groups of outstanding scientists to address mathematical or theoretical topics of fundamental scientific importance in which a significant new development has created a novel area for exploration or provided a new direction for progress in an established field. Collaborations are funded for four years with the possibility of renewal for an additional three years.

The endeavor to understand the glassy state of matter forces us to consider deeply a seemingly simple question: What is a solid? Glass — the prototypical and ubiquitous amorphous solid — inhabits an incredibly complex energy landscape in which systems are often stranded far from equilibrium. Dealing with so many relevant energy minima has emerged as one of the central problems of statistical physics and requires the invention of a new set of tools and concepts. This collaboration, which addresses such fundamental issues as disorder, nonlinear response and system behavior far from equilibrium, builds on three powerful approaches: studies of jamming at zero temperature, the mean-field theory of glasses in infinite dimensions, and the dynamics in a marginally stable landscape. The convergence of recent breakthroughs in these areas offers a unique opportunity to tackle two outstanding and intimately related challenges:

  • Developing a unified theory of structure and excitations in glassy matter
  • Developing a theory for the relaxation dynamics on approach to the glass transition

More information about the collaboration can be found here.

The Simons Foundation expects to support more collaborations in future years; groups interested in applying should review the Request for Applications available on our website.