What is it about?

Large-scale simulations of dumbbell-shaped molecules have elucidated the full mechanism of the motion of molecular liquids just before they solidify as glasses, providing a bridge between theoretical and experimental studies on the glass transition. The long- and short-time motions are attributed to the rotational and translational motions of the molecules, respectively, providing a clear real-space understanding of these motions. As for the theoretically important energy landscape picture, we showed numerically that a two-step hierarchical structure gives rise to the above two processes, proving the correctness of the theory more than 25 years after it was proposed.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

Glasses are formed by rapidly cooling liquids. Just before the glass transition, when the liquid solidifies as glass, the liquid molecules are undergoing complex motions on various time scales. Numerical studies have so far exclusively simplified the constituent particles of liquids with spherical shapes, such as spheres and disks. However, the Johari-Goldstein β relaxation, which has been widely observed in molecular liquid experiments, cannot be captured by spherical particles. As compensation for simplification, there has been little progress in understanding what kind of molecular motion this process corresponds to. Theoretically, a two-step hierarchical potential energy landscape interpretation was proposed more than 25 years ago and has been widely accepted by the community. However, for a similar reason, numerical evidence for this interpretation has not been available. This situation has been a major frustration with theories explaining glass transitions exhibited by real molecules. Our study solves these two major difficulties related to the glass transition of molecular liquids.


This research has clarified the theoretical position of the experimentally observed relaxation mechanism, opening the way for extending the scope of application of the fundamental theory, which is expected to contribute to the control and design of various glassy materials in the real world in the future.

Kumpei Shiraishi

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Johari–Goldstein β relaxation in glassy dynamics originates from two-scale energy landscape, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, March 2023, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2215153120.
You can read the full text:



The following have contributed to this page