Physicists have identified a new state of matter, hidden within the mysterious transformations that take place between the liquid and solid states of glass.
The new state of matter, called “liquid glass”, exhibits a behavior at the microscopic level never seen before, so it is separate from any other phenomenon previously observed.
This new state appears to exist between solid and colloid (like a gel), being homogeneous mixtures with particles that are microscopic but larger than atoms and molecules, but also easier to study. In this case, small plastic colloids were created and mixed in a solvent.
Evidence that the scientific community has been hunting for a long time
“It is incredibly interesting from a theoretical point of view. Our experiments provide the necessary evidence for the interactions between crucial fluctuations and crystalline position that the scientific community has been looking for for some time,” said Matthias Fuchs, professor at the University of Konstanz. in Germany.
When materials go from liquid to solid, their molecules generally line up to form a crystalline pattern. However, the same is not the case with glass. That is why scientists want so much to analyze and deconstruct the phenomenon. In the case of glass and glass-like materials, the molecules are “frozen” or locked in a disordered state.
In the case of “liquid glass,” the researchers noted that these colloids could move but could not rotate. The colloids had more flexibility than glass molecules, but not enough to be comparable to previously studied materials.
The discovery could explain any scenario in which an unexplained disorder exists
By means of ellipsoidal colloids instead of standard spherical shapes, these “locked rotations” could be observed. The particles accumulated in groups with similar orientations, and then “clogged” each other within the material, according to Science alert.
The researchers said that the new state of matter is in fact two competing transitions from liquid to solid that interact, thus creating a mixture of different properties. The shape and concentration of the particles appear to be crucial to the creation of this “bottle of liquid”.
The findings have the potential to reveal more about the smallest biological cells to the largest cosmological system, that is, any setting where there is an unexplained disorder.
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