Solid, Liquid, Gas … and something entirely different?
A sensational discovery has been made, as scientists reveal that a new state of matter has been found, where atoms can exist in both a liquid and solar state at the same time.
The new study sheds light on the debate whether there was a distinct, predominant state of matter, or whether atoms structures represent a mere transition between two different stages, be either solid, liquid, or gas.
The researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland argue that more than half a dozen elements can exist in the newly found state of matter.
Previous studies failed to clarify whether this structure represented its own distinct state of matter.
But after scientists simulated the behavior of more than 20,000 potassium atoms, which were exposed to extreme conditions, the experts were able to successfully confirmed there exists a new, stable state of matter. These extreme conditions led scientists to the discovery of a formation of two interlocked solid lattice structures in the atoms.
Precisely these strong chemical interactions allowed atoms to remain in solid form when heated, while other atoms melted into a liquid state.
The lead author of the study, Dr. Andreas Hermann, of the university’s School of Physics and Astronomy, explained:
“Potassium is one of the simplest metals we know, yet if you squeeze it, it forms very complicated structures. We have shown that this unusual but stable state is part solid and part liquid.”
“Recreating this unusual state in other materials could have all kinds of applications.” Dr. Hermann added.
The new paper describing the new state of matter is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
As scientists have confirmed the new state of matter, the chain-melt phase of potassium joins an already well-known list of other unusual states of matter that go beyond gas, liquid, and solid: Plasma, Bose-Einstein condensate, Superconductor, Superfluid, Degenerate matter, and Quark-gluon plasma.