Physicists discover new ‘state’ of matter that can be solid and liquid simultaneously

Most of us are familiar with three states of matter - solid, liquid and gas. However, for the first time ever, scie
Published April 11, 2019

Most of us are familiar with three states of matter - solid, liquid and gas. However, for the first time ever, scientists have discovered a new ‘state’ where matter can exist in both solid and liquid states at once.

In a first, physicists have found that it is possible for matter to exist in two of the three states. Specifically, the metal potassium can be a solid and liquid simultaneously, if treated in a particular way.

Scientists applied extreme pressure and extreme temperature to potassium that makes it exist in both solid and molten states. Physicist Andreas Hermann told National Geographic, “It would be like holding a sponge filled with water that starts dripping out, except the sponge is also made of water.”

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As per Science Alert, the team used artificial intelligence and powerful computer simulations to observe the behavior of 20,000 potassium atoms under extreme conditions. When the pressure and temperature are high enough – around 2-4 Gigapascals – the potassium atoms arranged themselves in interlinked chains and lattices.

The chemical interactions between the lattice atoms are strong, thus they remain an ordered solid when a temperature between 400 and 800 Kelvin is applied, but meanwhile the chains melt into a disordered, liquid state too. Scientists are now calling this new stated the ‘chain-melted phase’.

“Potassium is one of the simplest metals we know, yet if you squeeze it, it forms very complicated structures,” Hermann said. “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.”

According to the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the team believes over half a dozen other elements, including sodium and bismuth, are also capable of existing in this new chain-melted state, reported Daily Mail.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019


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