Phase Separation and Spatial Morphology in Sodium Silicate Glasses by AFM, Light Scattering and NMR


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The morphological and structural properties of sodium silicate (Na2OSiO2) glasses were analyzed using atomic force microscopy (AFM) and light scattering following thermal treatments. AFM observations indicated that the glass surface microstructure evolves during the phase separation mechanisms from continuous interpenetrating phases in the spinodal decomposition process to separated droplets embedded in a continuous matrix for the nucleation/growth one. Raman mapping gave evidence of a phase separation through the nucleation/growth process with formation of silica-rich clusters characterized by higher polymerization degree as separate droplets. The variations in inhomogeneities versus temperature investigated by Brillouin are exponential for spinodal decomposition and linear in the case of nucleation/growth mechanism. Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to investigate the spatial distribution of the various Qn species present in thermally treated glasses and allows determining fractal dimension between two and three.