Crystallization and vitrification of electrons in a glass-forming charge liquid

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Charge ordering (CO) is a phenomenon in which electrons in solids crystallize into a periodic pattern of charge-rich and charge-poor sites owing to strong electron correlations. This usually results in long-range order. In geometrically frustrated systems, however, a glassy electronic state without long-range CO has been observed. We found that a charge-ordered organic material with an isosceles triangular lattice shows charge dynamics associated with crystallization and vitrification of electrons, which can be understood in the context of an energy landscape arising from the degeneracy of various CO patterns. The dynamics suggest that the same nucleation and growth processes that characterize conventional glass-forming liquids guide the crystallization of electrons. These similarities may provide insight into our understanding of the liquid-glass transition.

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