NASA Engineered a Box to Create the Fifth State of Matter in Space
By acting on an ultrathin layered semiconductor with high-power laser pulses, researchers for the first time managed to create a liquid consisting not of ordinary atoms of a substance, but only of individual electrons and holes at room temperature.
During the experiment, scientists from the University of California made a material consisting of alternating layers of semiconducting molybdenum ditelluride and graphene. The thickness of the entire structure was slightly more than the width of one DNA molecule. Then physicists bombarded this structure with ultrafast laser pulses, measured in quadrillion fractions of a second..
As a result of the experiment, scientists noticed the sudden formation of what they called an anomalous photocurrent ring and found signs of condensation of electrons and their positively charged holes into the equivalent of a liquid. According to the team, the substance has properties that resemble an ordinary liquid, except that it is not made of molecules, but of individual elementary particles. However, the researchers were more surprised that the exotic state formed at room temperature.
Further physicists will study the properties of an exotic liquid, such as surface tension, fluidity. They also plan to use this technology to research other phenomena. For example, can cooling to ultra-low temperatures turn drop in «quantum fluid» from unique physical properties that will help discover new fundamental features of matter.
The team argues that due to the electronic properties of the substance, it will be possible to develop optoelectronic devices that work with high efficiency in the terahertz range of the spectrum. Terrahertz waves can be used to detect skin cancer, cracked teeth, product defects, or faster space communication systems. Liquid can also become the basis for quantum computers, allowing them to be significantly reduced in size compared to those based on silicon..
Earlier, we also reported that scientists were able to cool the plasma with a laser.
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: UC Riverside, video: YouTube / QMO Lab