22 States of matter

It's easy to remember the three states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas, but it's not that simple since there are 22 states of matter!

The States of Matter

It's easy to remember the three states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas, but it's not that simple since there are 22 states of matter

The smallest particles in the case determine whether it's solid, liquid, or gas. There are 22 states of matter, including gases, liquids, and solids which are known. These states can be changed by varying temperatures or pressure. 

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22nd state of matter

1. Solid

A solid is defined as a substance that has a definite shape and volume and whose constituent particles (molecules, atoms, ions) are packed closely together. Solids cannot flow as liquids do: when force is applied to a solid, it will deform but not break apart. This makes solids good for constructing things such as skyscrapers or furniture, but solids don't have much flexibility in terms of changing their shape or packing more tightly or loosely than they already are. The solid-state is one of three states of matter at standard temperature and pressure (STP). The other two states are liquid and gas. If you cool a material down to its freezing point, it changes from a liquid into a solid-state; if you heat up water until it boils, its molecules move so quickly that they escape from each other's attraction, making steam; if you keep heating steam until all water has evaporated into gas form, then you have created dry ice.

2. Liquid

 Liquids have no definite shape; they take on whatever container they’re put into while solids have definite shapes because their molecules are packed together tightly. Gases have no definite shape or volume because their molecules move freely and spread out to fill any space available to them. Plasma is an ionized gas where some of its atoms have lost an electron or gained extra ones. These ions carry a charge, making plasma electrically conductive.

3. Gas

If a substance becomes a gas, it means that its particles are completely separated from one another. In layman's terms, it'll spread out and fill whatever container you put it in — but without any real shape or form. A balloon full of helium is a good example of a gas (the helium atoms have enough space between them to inflate without bumping into each other). There are many different types of gases: Some will burn, some will freeze your skin off, and others aren't really good for anything. But they all have one thing in common: They're made up entirely of single particles called molecules, and these molecules move around with extreme kinetic energy. The more particles there are, and the faster those particles move, the more energetic a gas is. And while gasses can take on almost any volume depending on how much pressure you apply to them, they don't always take on their own volume; they can also expand to fit whatever container you put them in. This makes gases ideal for filling balloons!

4. Plasma

The fourth state of matter—plasma—is formed when a substance with a high temperature reaches its ignition point, where it fuses into a gas. The sun is made out of plasma. So are fluorescent light bulbs and arc welders. Plasma is also used to accelerate particles in particle accelerators like CERN's Large Hadron Collider, which recently discovered evidence for the Higgs boson particle; if you're watching TV or listening to music on your home entertainment system, you can thank plasma for that as well (plasma displays and digital radio are two examples). While most substances tend to become liquids or solids at higher temperatures, one liquid that can become plasma under extreme conditions is called dropleton.

5. Bose-Einstein Condensate

The Bose-Einstein condensate is a form of matter that occurs at ultra-low temperatures (and thus extremely high densities). This state was predicted by Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein in 1924. It is a specific phase of matter with unusual properties, such as quantum coherence. The first true Bose-Einstein condensate was created by Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman at the JILA laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, in 1995. They used ultracold rubidium atoms, cooled to within a few billionths of a degree above absolute zero. At these temperatures, all atoms occupy their lowest possible energy state, which means they can be considered bosons - named after Satyendra Nath Bose, who predicted their existence in 1924. When cooled further to within one-millionth of a degree above absolute zero, all bosons occupy exactly the same energy level – resulting in identical collective behavior. 

6. Supercritical Fluid

A new supercritical fluid has been discovered that can dissolve materials in their normal form. The supercritical fluid is created when a Jahn-Teller metal solidifies into a three-dimensional crystal structure called a string net liquid. The metal and its salt are submerged in a solvent to create either a metal-salt solution or a metal cluster solution. The metallic salt clusters contain two types of molecules: one that forms chains of intermolecular bonds and one with no weakly bonded electrons to interact with neighboring molecules. When pressure is applied, they form cross-links with each other until they completely cover each other up—and eventually themselves. Once all possible cross-links have formed, there's nothing left for any additional chains to connect with, so they stop forming. This means that at a certain point, there will be no more room for any more cross-links. This point is known as an absolute phase transition because it occurs at exactly one temperature (in contrast to an orderly transition). In addition to being able to dissolve matter in its normal state without changing it chemically, supercritical fluids can also remove substances from substances without changing them chemically by simply dissolving them out.

7. Degenerate Matter

In quantum mechanics, the degenerate matter is an idealized state in which all quantum energy states are filled with electrons. This occurs at very low temperatures (i.e., extremely high pressures) and explains many unusual properties of these materials. When an electron is excited by the absorption of a photon, it has to either return to its ground state or be forced into an already occupied higher-energy level via a process called pairing. This pairing prevents excitation, so no additional radiation can occur. In other words, all possible excitations have been filled up or degenerated. The consequence of such full occupation is that all thermal motion ceases, even at zero kelvin: there will be no more collisions between particles because there are none left to collide. Degenerate matter is thus a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC). It was predicted by Albert Einstein in 1907 as part of his theory of specific heat capacity but was not observed until 1995 when Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman produced such a condensate using ultracold rubidium atoms cooled with lasers. The discovery earned them half of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Physics for producing the first example of a Bose-Einstein condensate.

8. Photonic Matter 

A new state of matter has been created by researchers at Purdue University in Indiana, who found that some materials can act as both an insulator and a semiconductor. The photonic matter is something completely different, said Purdue physics professor Andrew Weiner, whose study was published in Nature Materials. His group's findings could have important implications for information technology and quantum computing. Most objects are either good conductors or insulators (for example, lightbulbs, water, or plastic). But when matter transitions from being a poor conductor to a good conductor at very low temperatures, it becomes photonic—instead of electrons moving through it as charge carriers, they can only do so collectively (photonically) via quantum tunneling.

9. String-net liquid

When researchers poured liquid polystyrene through a microscopic sieve, they expected to see a mixture of small hard droplets and larger pieces that had failed to pass through. Instead, they found small particles dispersed throughout the water-based solution. This new form is what physicists call string-net liquid because it looks like a 3D mesh of tiny strings. The discovery challenges long-held assumptions about how polymers behave in liquids, which has big implications for how these materials might be used in everything from paint and ink to plastics manufacturing. (Fast Company) In science class, you learned about solid, liquid, and gas states of matter. Turns out there are at least 20 different states that matter can exist in -- but only if you have a microscope handy. Researchers have discovered an entirely new state of matter: string-net liquid. What's more, they created it right inside their lab. We have managed to create something entirely new, said James Tour at Rice University in Houston, who led the research team behind the string-net liquid's discovery.

10. Dropleton

During a state change, molecules may break apart, move around, or be rearranged. For example, when water changes from its liquid state to its solid-state (ice), it undergoes a state change known as freezing. When ice melts into liquid water, it also undergoes a state change. Melting and freezing are examples of phase changes, which happen in both solid and liquid states. Phase changes don't have anything to do with temperature -- they're due to pressure or other forces acting on a substance. The dropleton is one such phase change; it happens when carbon dioxide becomes liquid by absorbing heat directly from air at extremely low temperatures. It's not actually a new form of matter -- we're just used to seeing CO2 in gaseous form instead. Although there are 22 different states of matter, only three can exist naturally: solid, liquid, and gas. Solids have fixed shapes and volumes but can be compressed without changing their state. Liquids take the shape of their container but can flow if given enough space. Gases fill any container but will expand to fill any extra space.

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11. Jahn-Teller Metal

The Jahn-Teller effect, also called Jahn-Teller distortion or Jahn-Teller effect, is a phenomenon in which non-octahedral molecular geometries are more stable than those predicted by symmetry. The distortion is accompanied by a decrease in enthalpy and an increase in potential energy.

In certain transition metals, electrons are not equally spread among all of their atomic orbitals. Instead, there is a tendency for some of these orbitals to be emptier than others. When transition metals form Jahn-Teller metal complexes with ligands that stabilize these vacant orbitals, they become distorted in such a way that they no longer resemble close-packed spheres and instead appear distorted into elongated structures that take on shapes like ovals or saddle-shaped pairs known as dumbbells. Since some of these orbitals are now easier to fill up than others, it is more energetically favorable for atoms to bond with those that already have electrons present in one or more of them.

12. Time crystals

Mathematically speaking, there's no reason why time crystals can't exist. Physicists just need to figure out how to make them. So far, it looks like they should be able to do so in either five or 10 dimensions—but perhaps that's a step too far for now. No one has a clue how they could possibly be useful, though—beyond freaking out your high school physics teacher. But even if you don't understand what they are, at least you know what they aren't: perpetual motion machines. That's because time crystals aren't objects that generate energy by themselves; instead, their oscillations rely on outside sources of energy and then return it later. They're not breaking any laws of thermodynamics (the rules governing energy) but rather using those laws to their advantage by taking outside energy and using it in ways we don't yet understand. And as with any new discovery, we're still figuring out what exactly these things are and how best to use them. But if we ever do harness their power—well, let's just say I wouldn't want to be around when someone finally figures out how to use them as a weapon.

13. Quantum Spin- Hall

Materials with different magnetic properties are placed in a device called a magic-angle spinning NMR. This forces their atoms to take on differing spin states. When they came into contact with a supercritical fluid, scientists found that their structure changed, leading them to believe that their spins had gotten entangled and created an entirely new type of matter. The [fluid] turns out to be a remarkable medium for these quantum effects, says Gerald Gabrielse, professor of chemistry at Harvard University. It's almost like it knows what you're trying to do. The fluid's ability to make quantum entanglement possible is so strong that researchers were able to create spin ice, which consists of two layers of liquid helium separated by a layer of superfluid helium. The superfluid layer acts as a barrier between each layer, allowing each one to have its own spin state without interference from its neighbor—like placing two bar magnets next to each other but offsetting their poles by 90 degrees, so they don't affect one another.

14. Fermionic matter

This is where we find everyday particles like electrons, neutrons, and protons. Fermions are characterized by their half-integer spin and can occupy distinct quantum states—different positions in space—at any given time. Electrons, for example, have a single-, double- or triple-negative charge and orbit atoms depending on their energy levels. Solid objects made from fermionic matter include silver and gold. Excitonium: A class of degenerate matter made up entirely of excitons that may exist at extremely low temperatures in certain condensed phases. Experiments at MIT in 2004 demonstrated its potential to be stable at room temperature, but physicists say further study is required to determine whether it exists naturally on Earth or whether it's only found within laboratory conditions. Bose-Einstein condensates: A state of matter formed when a group of atoms cooled to near absolute zero coalesce into one giant atom known as a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC). In 1995, Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for producing BECs. Superfluids: Liquids that flow without friction, such as liquid helium or liquid hydrogen. Helium II is an example of the superfluid. Superconductors: Materials with zero electrical resistance; they allow electricity to flow through them easily without dissipating heat. Examples include lead and mercury, among others.

15. Superconductivity

Superconductivity is a phenomenon of exactly zero electrical resistance and expulsion of magnetic fields occurring in certain materials when cooled below a characteristic critical temperature. The phenomenon was discovered by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes on April 8, 1911, in Leiden. Like ferromagnetism and atomic spectral lines, superconductivity is a quantum mechanical phenomenon. It is characterized by the Meissner effect, where all external magnetic fields are expelled from within the superconductor as it transitions into its superconducting state. This causes a drop in electrical resistance, which abruptly increases when a material is cooled below its critical temperature. In conventional conductors such as copper or silver, resistance decreases gradually as temperature is lowered.

16. Superfluid

When you combine it with a liquid, superfluid boils that liquid away due to its high temperature. The boiling liquid heats up as it turns into vapor and turns into a hot, pressurized gas that pushes against its container and is squeezed through any gaps in its container. Even though it's still fluid, photonic matter changes state under pressure or on-demand by heating or cooling. In fact, when you put too much heat into a photonic crystal composed of spherical particles smaller than an atom, those tiny spheres collapse their long-range order and turn into solid-like crystals. It's like water turning from solid ice back to water; only your new solid is in 100 percent fluid form and has no crystalline structure.

17.Supper solid

In physics, a solid is one of the three major states of matter (the others being liquid and gas). Solids have a fixed volume and retain their shape. Unlike liquids, they do not flow to take on the shape of their container, nor do they expand to fill increasing volumes. An example of a solid is an ice cube or a diamond. The atoms in a solid are tightly bound to each other, either in a regular repeating pattern (crystalline structure) or irregularly (amorphous structure). The branch of physics that studies solids are called solid-state physics. Examples of solids include common materials such as glass, wood, paper, metal, and plastic. 

Solid objects are usually distinguished from liquids by their much higher melting points; while both solids and liquids share the ability to flow, most solids will change phase back into liquids when heated above their melting point, while most liquids freeze into solids when cooled below their freezing point. Almost all common metals, and many ceramics, are polycrystalline: they consist of multiple small crystals (grains) fused together into a single solid.

18. Quantum spin liquid

A quantum spin liquid is a state of matter intermediate between a magnet and an ordinary liquid, in which there is a range of states with zero total spins. A spin liquid can be thought of as a superfluid that has become turbulent due to scattering. It was discovered in 1992 by Thomas Häner and Bertrand Halperin at Brookhaven National Laboratory. In addition to being intriguing from a fundamental physics perspective, studying spin liquids may provide insight into previously unexplored areas such as high-temperature superconductivity or dense electron matter (e.g., atomic nuclei). However, whether or not they have practical applications remains to be seen.

19. Fermion Materials

The Fermi classification is used to describe and categorize matter, from subatomic particles to ordinary objects. So, for example, a solid is an ordered structure where atoms form patterns or repeating units (like a crystal). In solids, atoms are close together; in liquids, they're farther apart and held together by weaker forces than in solids. At high temperatures or when subjected to pressure, liquids may change into gases. Gases lack any long-range order; they tend to expand (that's why you can fit more air molecules into a balloon than water molecules), and they have no regular arrangement of atoms or molecules. Finally, at extremely low temperatures or under extreme pressure, gases may become a superfluid that flows without friction. Superfluids behave like fluids but can also be viewed as an exotic state of matter known as a Bose-Einstein condensate.

In most cases, we encounter states of matter every day: gas in our cars and stoves; liquid in our coffee cups and swimming pools; solid on our desks and floors. But there are other states out there—some familiar, some not so much—and scientists continue to explore them all with great interest.

20. Rydberg Polaron

Electrons moving around an atom do not behave like independent particles. Instead, they are attracted to other electrons and form a pattern that can be described as standing waves. These waves extend well beyond the boundaries of an atom (the Degenerate matter), making each element unique—both chemically and physically. This helps explain why one element will have different properties than another even if they have similar chemical makeup: Their atoms are arranged differently. For example, hydrogen gas has many more properties in common with helium gas than it does with carbon dioxide or sulfur dioxide. The same is true for solid elements. For example, graphite and diamond are both made up of carbon but differ greatly in their physical properties because their atoms are arranged differently in three-dimensional space. The arrangement is called the state of matter. The most common states of matter include solids, liquids, gases, plasmas, and Bose-Einstein condensates. Each state has its own set of characteristics that make it distinct from all others.

21. Quark gluon Plasma

Researchers have discovered a new state of matter: one that consists of subatomic particles called quarks and gluons. The research, done at Brookhaven National Laboratory, was published on Thursday in Physical Review Letters. Quark-gluon plasma is thought to have existed in extremely hot conditions during the Big Bang - but scientists have never been able to recreate it here on Earth.

22. Excitonium

One 22nd state of matter is called excitonic, a substance that was predicted by theorists to exist in 1995 but has never been detected. Excitonium is made up of excitons, particles with zero electrical charge and negative-positive magnetic charge. Like conventional atoms, excitons have both wave and particle properties. In fact, excitons act like light particles (photons), making them incredibly fast—so fast that they travel faster than light itself! This means that excitons could theoretically travel back in time if given enough energy. To create excitonic, scientists must cool rubidium atoms down to less than one ten-billionth of a degree above absolute zero (-273 degrees Celsius). The two types of charged particles then become bound together into one entity. This may sound exotic, but it's actually what happens every day inside your computer screen or TV: When an electron moves from one atom to another without passing through an energy level, it leaves behind an exciting hole that behaves just like an exciton.

About the Author

Sarkun is a dedicated research student at one of India's premier institutions, the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER). With over three years of experience in the realm of blogging, Sarkun's passion lies at the interse…

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