Basic chemistry

What is the new state of matter called ?

new exotic state of matter?


A new exotic state of matter :

Solid, liquid and gaseous. These are the three classic states of matter. It was already known that some more exotic states, such as plasma or superfluid state, had to be added to them. Researchers tell us today that they have observed an even more strange state of matter made of Rydberg’s polarons.

In general, between the nucleus of an atom and the electrons that surround it, nothing but vacuum is found. Sometimes a lot of vacuum, if the electrons in question are particularly distant from the nucleus, which is the case for the so-called atoms of Rydberg, whose last single electron, excited, has been removed from the nucleus. So why not fill that void with … other atoms? And thus to form a new state of matter for the least exotic. A state that would exist only at low temperature.

The idea may seem far-fetched. Yet this is the theory theorized by researchers at the University of Vienna (Austria) and Harvard University (USA) before giving the experimental part to physicists at Rice University ( United States). By combining their skills, they managed to observe a mysterious state of matter formed by Rydberg’s polarons.

To achieve their ends, the researchers first created a Bose-Einstein condensate from strontium atoms . This particular state of matter can be obtained only at very low temperatures, close to absolute zero . Then, using a laser , they transformed an atom of the condensate into a Rydberg atom .


A Rydberg atom in a Bose-Einstein condensate

“The average distance between the electron and the nucleus of a Rydberg atom can be up to several hundred nanometers , which is more than a thousand times the radius of a hydrogen atom, ” explains physicist Joachim Burgdörfer. University of Vienna. Now, the radius of the ” orbit ” of this electron is then much larger than the average distance between two atoms of the condensate.

Up to 170 atoms in a Rydberg atom

The researchers argue that up to 170 strontium atoms could literally slip into the Rydberg atom. Almost without disturbing the path of Rydberg’s electron. For atoms are electrically neutral entities and “almost” because, as quantum mechanics predicts , the electron still feels the disturbing presence of these atoms.

The weak interactions between this electron and these atoms have the effect of reducing the total energy of the system. Thus is created a new form of connection between the atom of Rydberg and the atoms installed in him. Weak bonds which, like this new exotic state of matter, can only last at extremely low temperatures.

  • Researchers have observed an exotic state of matter formed from Rydberg’s polarons.
  • Rydberg’s polarons consist of Rydberg atoms, filled with other atoms forming a Bose-Einstein condensate.
  • This state of matter can only be obtained under temperature conditions close to absolute zero.
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