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Scientists Discover a New Phase of Matter

By - Source: Stanford University | B 43 comments

They discovered that a type of high-temperature superconductor may feature a previously unknown phase of matter that could either work in favor of superconductivity or against it.

Superconductors are usually used in scientific experiments, for example by particle accelerators such as the Tevatron at Fermilab or the LHC at CERN. To reach superconductivity, superconductors are often cooled to absolute zero, which typically requires liquid helium as a coolant. Even high-temperature superconductors need to be cooled halfway to zero. Prior to entering the superconducting phase,  electrons are in an energy gap that arises when electrons pair off and drop to the lower energy level, which is the foundation for superconductivity. As soon as the temperature rises, the electrons split up, regain their previous energy level again and a material cannot superconduct anymore as a result.

Stanford's findings suggest that there is another phase in their copper-based superconductor: Many electrons do not pair off, but form an "elusive order" that had not been observed in the past. The researchers said that this state is not understood yet, but further research will highlight whether this phase works in favor of superconductivity or against it. If it is in favor, it can be promoted. If it is against it, it could be suppressed. In the next step, the researchers want to learn to understand the "nature" of this new phase.

The detailed research is published in the March 25 issue of Science.         

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  • 2 Hide
    HansVonOhain , March 25, 2011 7:24 PM
    Then let us help Stanford with another variation of Folding@Home program!
  • -2 Hide
    rubix_1011 , March 25, 2011 7:28 PM
    Quote:
    Stanford Researchers Discover a New Phase of Matter


    Quote:
    Stanford's findings suggest that there is another phase in their copper-based superconductor


    So which is it...did they actually 'Discover it' or did they simply find something that needs to be proven, first?

    Perhaps you shouldn't be so quick to etch this information in stone. While it is still in the very early discovery phases and not completely validated, it could potentially be true. There is a huge difference to an initial discovery and writing it off as a new scientific law.
  • 0 Hide
    dogman_1234 , March 25, 2011 7:29 PM
    F@H with electrons.

    Hey, this is a great idea for the superconductor industry...when it arrives to take on semiconductors.
  • 2 Hide
    lashabane , March 25, 2011 7:31 PM
    rubix_1011...Perhaps you shouldn't be so quick to etch this information in stone...

    Posting something on the internet is not "etching it in stone".
  • 4 Hide
    someguynamedmatt , March 25, 2011 7:33 PM
    At first, I was like "I don't give a crap", but then I reread the title and went whoa. Then I read the actual article and almost immediately stopped caring...
  • 0 Hide
    sseyler , March 25, 2011 7:34 PM
    rubix_1011So which is it...did they actually 'Discover it' or did they simply find something that needs to be proven, first?Perhaps you shouldn't be so quick to etch this information in stone. While it is still in the very early discovery phases and not completely validated, it could potentially be true. There is a huge difference to an initial discovery and writing it off as a new scientific law.


    A phase of matter isn't "scientific law". Matter phases are emergent phenomena as a direct result of statistical mechanical properties of materials.
  • -1 Hide
    rubix_1011 , March 25, 2011 7:38 PM
    I disagree:

    Reporting incorrect or invalidated information as truth is more permanent than you think. Take someone who has been wrongly accused of a felony. They often never recover once this has been removed...their name is permanently tarnished for a crime the did not commit.

    The same goes for information- it begins as rumor and can be spread verbally or otherwise used and manipulated to work for or against a specific viewpoint.

    And you think that once you delete an email from your inbox or remove a photo from a social site, it 'goes away forever'? Think again. Electronic information has an incredibly deep residual hold once it has been saved and submitted.
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , March 25, 2011 7:46 PM
    "To reach superconductivity, superconductors are often cooled to absolute zero"

    What?
  • 1 Hide
    scook9 , March 25, 2011 7:52 PM
    Not all the way to absolute zero, but within a few k of it. A more common and real world use of superconductors is the primary coils in MRIs which are also cooled by liquid helium
  • 1 Hide
    Anomalyx , March 25, 2011 7:55 PM
    So this "state" of matter is kinda like plasma...?
    Plasma isn't another state, it's just a hotter gas.
    This new "state" doesn't sound like another state... just a colder solid.
  • 1 Hide
    brucek2 , March 25, 2011 8:09 PM
    Headline is way too sensational for the actual story. I was expecting to learn about a new alternative to solid, liquid, gas, etc.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 25, 2011 8:11 PM
    Yeah...absolute zero is impossible, what with the laws of thermodynamics standing in the way and all. Within a few fractions of a degree off absolute zero, sure.
  • 1 Hide
    Aragorn , March 25, 2011 8:11 PM
    Plasma is formed by heating a gas and applying an electrical charge, but is is a different state of matter, a hotter gas behaves differently than a plasma.
  • 6 Hide
    lamorpa , March 25, 2011 8:52 PM
    Yup. Cooled right down to absolute zero. Better go a few degrees below it just to be safe...
  • 1 Hide
    hoofhearted , March 25, 2011 9:01 PM
    If you had to pick one of the three classical states, hot gas would about do it. Pluto is also "not a planet".
  • 4 Hide
    acadia11 , March 25, 2011 9:05 PM
    AnomalyxSo this "state" of matter is kinda like plasma...?Plasma isn't another state, it's just a hotter gas.This new "state" doesn't sound like another state... just a colder solid.



    That is incorrect, plasma, is in fact another state. It doesn't act like a gas at all, for example, it does not follow the Gas Law, although similar to a gas in the fact that it doesn't have a definite volume, the huge difference is plasma's are ionized and their electrons are not bound as they are in gas state, because, the have more energy to break away from the nucleus of the atom. A state of matter is essentially defined by the properties associated with that state. A gas is a gas because, it follows the gas law, liquads, plasma, and solid also have their on laws which define their volume, density, etc ... this new state, clearly, doesn't follow the laws of aolid or may so closely, but likek they said, they need to find out more about it's properties.
  • 3 Hide
    nebun , March 25, 2011 9:06 PM
    sseylerI won't even start with how poorly-written this article is. I guess if you're not science-educated, though, it's pretty tough to "summarize" unfamiliar physical concepts.

    then stop visiting the site, and keep your comments to yourself.....problem fixed
  • 3 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , March 25, 2011 9:08 PM
    "superconductors are often cooled to absolute zero"

    ... not quite
  • 0 Hide
    acadia11 , March 25, 2011 10:39 PM
    dragonsqrrl"superconductors are often cooled to absolute zero"... not quite


    He's climbing in your window snatching up your kids, hide your kids, hide you are wife, you are so dumb, really really dumb ... but here for you non-educated folks, super-conductivity allows for fast processing speeds, duh ... hence if you cooled the copper ... i.e. copper transistors and they become super conductive imagine what kind of processing speed you could achieve. So, see, if you think, it's not so dumb after all ... it was actually quite clever.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 25, 2011 11:10 PM
    @acadia11

    copper makes for a sux transistor not to mention semi-conductor

    im still confused, are we talking about string-net liquids here (a state of matter that had been theorized for a while now, and contrary to the name is actually a solid that posses some qualities of liquids) or another state of matter altogether, it would be strange if there was another state of matter between solid, string-net liquids and liquids, seeing as string-nets are exotic enough already is there really enough room for another state of matter
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