We generalize the force-level nonlinear Langevin equation theory of single particle hopping to include collective effects associated with long range elastic distortion of the liquid. The activated alpha relaxation event is of a mixed spatial character, involving two distinct, but inter-related, local and collective barriers. There are no divergences at volume fractions below jamming or temperatures above zero Kelvin. The ideas are first developed and implemented analytically and numerically in the context of hard sphere fluids. In an intermediate volume fraction crossover regime, the local cage process is dominant in a manner consistent with an apparent Arrhenius behavior. The super-Arrhenius collective barrier is more strongly dependent on volume fraction, dominates the highly viscous regime, and is well described by a nonsingular law below jamming. The increase of the collective barrier is determined by the amplitude of thermal density fluctuations, dynamic shear modulus or transient localization length, and a growing microscopic jump length. Alpha relaxation time calculations are in good agreement with recent experiments and simulations on dense fluids and suspensions of hard spheres. Comparisons of the theory with elastic models and entropy crisis ideas are explored. The present work provides a foundation for constructing a quasi-universal, fit-parameter-free theory for relaxation in thermal molecular liquids over 14 orders of magnitude in time.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry