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Supercooled and glassy water: Metastable liquid(s), amorphous solid(s), and a no-man’s land

  1. Francesco Sciortinoa,1,2
  1. aDepartment of Physics, Sapienza University of Rome, I-00185 Roma, Italy;
  2. bInstitute of Physical Chemistry, University of Innsbruck, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria
  1. Edited by Pablo G. Debenedetti, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, and approved October 3, 2017 (received for review September 1, 2017)


We review the recent research on supercooled and glassy water, focusing on the possible origins of its complex behavior. We stress the central role played by the strong directionality of the water–water interaction and by the competition between local energy, local entropy, and local density. In this context we discuss the phenomenon of polyamorphism (i.e., the existence of more than one disordered solid state), emphasizing both the role of the preparation protocols and the transformation between the different disordered ices. Finally, we present the ongoing debate on the possibility of linking polyamorphism with a liquid–liquid transition that could take place in the no-man’s land, the temperature–pressure window in which homogeneous nucleation prevents the investigation of water in its metastable liquid form.


  • ?1P.H.H., T.L., and F.S. contributed equally to this work.

  • ?2To whom correspondence may be addressed. Email: philip.handle{at}uibk.ac.at, thomas.loerting{at}uibk.ac.at, or francesco.sciortino{at}uniroma1.it.
  • Author contributions: P.H.H., T.L., and F.S. wrote the paper.

  • The authors declare no conflict of interest.

  • This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.

Published under the PNAS license.

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