Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A New State Of Matter Turns A Solid World Into A Melting One

Date:
September 14, 1997
Source:
University Of Washington
Summary:
A new form of matter, clusters of atoms, has been oberved in recent years behaving in curious ways. Now research indicates that clusters have another, previously unsuspected property: they can melt at different temperatures from "solid" matter.

A new form of matter, clusters of atoms, has been oberved in recent years behaving in curious ways. Now research indicates that clusters have another, previously unsuspected property: they can melt at different temperatures from "solid" matter.

Related Articles


An experiment described in last week's Science (Sept. 12) paints an exotic portrait of certain substances seemingly confounding nature by existing as a liquid, instead of a solid, at room temperature.

George Bertsch, a theoretical physicist at the University of Washington, describes how the experiment with clusters of sodium atoms found that the atoms did not follow sodium's normal pattern, melting at 97.8 degrees Centigrade (208 degrees Fahrenheit). Instead, the small clusters of atoms melted at minus 6 degrees Centigrade (21 degrees Fahrenheit), well below room temperature.

The discovery was the work of Hellmut Haberland at the University of Freiburg in Germany. Bertsch, who has been following the field of cluster research for the past decade, writes that as a result of the experiment, scientists are now challenged "to understand what happens to the liquid and solid phases in small particles."

European researchers are working on a number of practical applications for the cluster phenomenon. Attempts are being made to produce thin films of silicon clusters that would process signals carried by light. Others are researching the use of clusters to improve the magnetic recording of data. And Haberland has been reported to have produced clusters of the element molybdenum that will even stick to Teflon.

Clusters have been called a new type of matter, says Bertsch, because they appear to be a bridge between atoms and the world of normal size, and have strange magnetic, electrical and optical properties. What is particularly curious, he says, is that the properties of the clusters depend on the number of atoms they contain.

Bertsch notes that most clusters are very unstable collections -- "they touch a wall and they are gone." But a decade ago it was discovered that certain clusters contain "magic numbers" of atoms that make them particularly stable. These numbers begin with just two atoms, and continue through eight, 20 and 40 and into the hundreds of atoms.

The German researcher used magic-number clusters of 139 sodium atoms. The melting point was observed by forming condensation 'droplets', rather like hot steam hitting a cold window, and passing the condensate through a mass spectrometer and finally an electric field.

Bertsch concedes that the research is controversial, and there are physicists who insist there can only be one melting temperature for each of the 92 natural elements. But, he says, "as scientists we have to look at the evidence." What's more, he believes there is evidence that the same phenomenon that the German researcher demonstrated with sodium, also exists with atomic clusters of both tin and lead.

The UW scientist is hesitant to attempt an explanation of what is causing the lower melting point of these elements. However, he notes, it has been suggested that there is a relation to a theory known as surface melting: when a substance reaches melting temperature, only a small surface layer melts immediately. "As solid sodium reaches melting temperature, a small layer of liquid might form on top of the solid," he says. "In a cluster, all you would have is this outer, liquid layer."

It could be said, says Bertsch, that this new type of matter is "practically all surface." If there is already something strange happening at the surface of certain elements, "then you accentuate that behavior when you create clusters."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Washington. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Washington. "A New State Of Matter Turns A Solid World Into A Melting One." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 September 1997. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/09/970914234606.htm>.
University Of Washington. (1997, September 14). A New State Of Matter Turns A Solid World Into A Melting One. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 3, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/09/970914234606.htm
University Of Washington. "A New State Of Matter Turns A Solid World Into A Melting One." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/09/970914234606.htm (accessed March 3, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Forensic Holodeck Creates 3D Crime Scenes

Forensic Holodeck Creates 3D Crime Scenes

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 3, 2015) A holodeck is no longer the preserve of TV sci-fi classic Star Trek, thanks to researchers from the Institute of Forensic Medicine Zurich, who have created what they say is the first system in the world to visualise the 3D data of forensic scans. Jim Drury saw it in operation. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Plane Passes New Test Ahead of World Tour

Solar Plane Passes New Test Ahead of World Tour

AFP (Mar. 2, 2015) A solar-powered plane made a third successful test flight in the United Arab Emirates on Monday ahead of a planned round-the-world tour to promote alternative energy. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Electric Hydrofoiling Watercraft Delivers Eco-Friendly Thrills

Electric Hydrofoiling Watercraft Delivers Eco-Friendly Thrills

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 2, 2015) The Quadrofoil is a high-tech electric personal watercraft that its makers call a &apos;sports car for the water&apos;. When it hits 10 km/h, the Slovenian-engineered Quadrofoil is lifted above the water onto four wing-like hydrofoils where it &apos;flies&apos; above the surface with minimal water resistance. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Everything You Need To Know About Mobile Payments In 2015

Everything You Need To Know About Mobile Payments In 2015

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) This year, mobile payments might finally catch on. Here are the things you need to know to stay on top of the latest developments. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins