For millennia, people have used molten sand and other ingredients to create a vast array of traditional glass products, including beads, vessels, lenses and windows. Today, we also have metallic glasses – materials with the strength of metal, but with the pliability of plastic.

With a new study, researchers at Yale and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have come closer to taking some of the guesswork out of the formation of these materials. The researchers’ work upends a long-held theory that the atoms of metallic glasses move together as the material is forming, accelerating and slowing down in unison as temperatures change. Experiments in recent years have suggested otherwise, but did not provide direct evidence.

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