Dec 2016

What Are Exotic States of Matter?

December 9, 2016

It is a fundamental fact that matter exists in three main states namely gas, liquid and solid. Additionally, you have other states in which matter can exist, which are termed as exotic states. These states are caused due to extremes in pressure and temperature. Such states have exclusive physical characteristics that totally differ from other states. Physics tuition in Singapore will help students gain a better grasp of such complex concepts in an easy way.

Classification of Exotic States

The exotic states can be broadly classified into

  • High temperature states: In this state, matter takes the form of ionized gas or plasma
  • Low-temperature states: This includes Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) or Superfluid state
  • Combined states: This state includes plastic crystals, amorphous solids, and liquid crystals

High Temperature States

A gas can convert into plasma state at high temperature. Plasma is referred to as the 4th state of matter. Degenerate particle matter and quark-gluon are other exotic states existing at high temperatures.
Plasma state: This includes gasses in ionized form and electrons separated from molecules or atoms. Over several thousand Celsius degree temperature is needed for creating the plasma which has the following characteristics:

  • Plasma conducts electricity readily
  • They generate electric currents and magnetic fields
  • Commonly found in Sun and in lightning.

Degenerate matter: This form of matter occurs due to very high pressure and is seen commonly in neutron stars and white dwarf stars.
Quark-gluon plasma: This is a rare form seen occasionally in accelerator reactions of very high energy particles.

Combined States

Under normal pressure and temperature, molecules and atoms show characteristics that are different from the basic three states.
Amorphous Solid: This is a combined state matter that is in a semi-solid or slow flowing liquid state. Gels, thin films, and glass belong to this state.
Plastic Crystals: This is made of molecules with weak interaction but has some freedom of form of orientation. These have the mechanical softness and resemble waxes, and are deformed easily.
Liquid Crystals: These forms have properties that are in between solid crystal state and conventional liquid state.

Low temperatures States

At extremely low temperatures, some materials turn into its superfluid form or Bose-Einstein condensates.
Super-fluids: Superfluid is formed when helium in liquid form is cooled to nearly absolute zero.

  • The viscosity is zero in the fluid, so it flows without any friction.
  • The fluid can flow upwards in walls and fall out of the container it is in.
  • Has infinite amount of thermal conductivity thus preventing any temperature gradient to be formed.

Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC): This state is where the particles do not exist independently but merge into a unified quantum state. Absolute zero temperatures are required to create this state.
The discovery of exotic states of matter has been instrumental in the development of new materials possessing novel properties and is of great significance for future technologies. Enrolling in JC physics tuition in Singapore will give you a better edge on mastering this topic area.

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