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The Solid That Looks Like Liquid

Amorphous solids seem to be defying scientific principles. By Marijo Gonzalez Fact Bytes An amorphous substance has the characteristics of both solid and liquid. Glass, candies, and soft glasses are examples of amorphous solids. Wax candle is an amorphous solid. It melts right back into its original state, and can be resolidified. A glass-like amorphous solid is cooled rapidly to lower the movement of atom and molecules. In a crystal, the atoms are packed and form a cubic lattice. On the other hand, an amorphous solids atoms are scattered randomly. Fast Facts Glass is often referred as a super-cooled liquid. Silicon, widely used as a semiconductor, is an amorphous solid. It is the second most abundant element in earths crust. It is also the principal component of glass, cement, ceramics, and silicones. Vocabulary Booster Dielectric- nonconducting substance like insulators Polyethylene-a polymer made up of long chains of monomer ethylene Polymerization- the process by which monomers are put together Tensile strength- the maximum strength of a metal to resist a force which tends to tear it apart Have you ever wondered if a substance was solid or liquid? Take for instance chocolate mousse or hair gel. They seem to be both firm and gooey. They are not very hard, so you can dip your hands in them. You can even hold them in your palm. Mousse and gel are examples of amorphous solids. There are two types of solids: crystalline and amorphous. A crystalline solid has a rigid structure-its, atoms, ions or molecules are arranged in orderly patterns in a threedimensional grid, which provides solid its basic properties such as hardness and definite shape. On the other hand, an amorphous solid does not have a crystalline structure. Its atomic or molecular structure does not repeat periodically-the pattern is random like that of liquid. Hence, an amorphous substance has the characteristics of both solid and liquid. Like solid, it can be whole and stand on its own. Like liquid, it can flow and take the shape of a container. At certain temperatures, it remains steady, unless allowed to flow by force. Amorphous solid can exist in two distinct states: the rubbery state and the

glassy state. There are many amorphous solids around us, many of which seem unlikely. Glass Man-made glass is the most common example of an amorphous solid. It is an inorganic amorphous material that is derived from heating silica, soda and lime to 982 degrees Celsius, hot enough to liquefy the ingredients. The liquid is then cooled to allow solidification. Glass retains its liquid properties even in the solid state-it can be reheated to become liquid again. Candy Like glass, hard candies such as lollipops and candy canes, are amorphous solids, except that they are organic. Since their atoms are disorderly patterned, the candies break easily when you bite into them. If their atoms were structured like a crystalline, you would not be able to sink your teeth into the candy at all. Interestingly, the lollipop recipe-hardened sugar syrup-has been used to make fake glass bottles and windows in old Hollywood films. When they break, they shatter like glass, but dont hurt the actors. Aside from hard candy, cotton candy is amorphous, too. Polyethylene Polyethylene (PE) is another example of an organic amorphous solid. It is a thermoplastic material. Depending on its density, PE can be used for a variety of materials including shopping bags, containers, cling wraps, toys, wire and cable insulations, bullet-proof vest, and hip and knee replacements. Polyethylene is made through the polymerization of ethylene. Soft glasses Soft glasses are a category of amorphous materials which, according to a new study by scientists from Bordeaux, Lyon in France, deform and flow through a collective movement of their particles. Soft glasses include emulsions, colloids, and mousses such as mayonnaise, catsup, mousse cakes, and beauty products like gels and creams. Note that some of these products look like semisolid blobs, but have the ability to flow if they are forced, such as when you squeeze them out of a bottle. Amorphous Metals Amorphous metals are a relatively new type of amorphous material. Also known as metallic glasses, they are mostly alloys that have high viscosity prevents the atoms from forming an orderly lattice. Amorphous alloys are strong enough for use in sports equipment, medical devices, and as bags for electronic equipment. An example is Vitreloy, which has double the tensile strength of high-grade titanium. Producing Amorphous Solids Amorphous solids are prepared in a number of ways. One is by heating the materials, and when they reach the molten state, they cooled rapidly. The quick cool is necessary to lower the movement of atoms and molecules before they reach crystallization or solidification.

Instead of heat, amorphous solids can be made by applying additives that prevent solidification of a primary component. For instance, to produce window glass, sodium carbonate is added to silicon dioxide. Scientists remain fascinated with nature of amorphous solids, and are trying to find out how these can be of further use to industries.

Solid Facts on the Supersolids

By Dexter Osorio Early 2004, two physicists from Pennsylvania State University announced their discovery of the first solid Bose-Einstein condensate, or BEC. BEC is a supersolid from helium-4 with the extraordinary frictionless-flow properties of a superfluid. The discovery was announced in the January 15, 2004 issue journal, Nature. For more than 30 years, theorists have predicted supersolidity, but its physical existence has not yet been proven in the laboratory. Building on a previous approach, team leader Moses H. W. Chan and his colleague, Eun-Seong Kim, used a device called torsional oscillator, a squat, cylindrical bob suspended from a hollow copper tube that slowly gyrates back and forth. To explore the behavior of solid helium, the researchers placed inside the oscillators bob a sponge-like porous glass disk about the size of a small coin. Then they filled the disks pores with liquid helium and froze the helium under pressure at temperatures near absolute zero. The porous glass was inside a leak-tight capsule, and the helium gas became solid when the pressure inside the capsule reached 40 times the normal atmospheric pressure. Chan and Kim continued to increase the pressure to 62 atmospheres. They also rotated the experimental capsule back and forth, monitoring the capsules rate of oscillation while cooling it to the lowest temperature. When the temperature dropped to one-tenth of a degree above absolute zero, the oscillation rate suddenly became slightly more rapid, as if some of the helium had disappeared. However, Chan and Kim were able to confirm that the helium atoms had not leaked out of the experimental capsule because its rate of oscillation returned to normal after they warmed the capsule above one-tenth of a degree above absolute zero. So they concluded that the solid helium-4 probably had acquired the properties of a superfluid when the conditions were more extreme. To understand the results of Chan and Kims experiment, imagine that you are pushing a child on a swing. The friction of the childs weight couples him to the seat of the swing and he swings back to you at a certain rate, which is determined partly by the combined weight of the child and the seat. But if the child suddenly becomes able to hover above the swing instead of being directly connected to it, the overall weight of the swings seat would become lighter and it would fly back to you at a faster rate. Chan

and Kim concluded that what happened inside their experimental capsule is that the tightly packed helium-4 particles became so slippery that they were no longer coupled to the walls of the glass sponges microspores. In other words, it became a superfluid solid or supersolid. Its Solid, It Flows Superfuids have the unique characteristic of frictionless flow. One way of imagining the phenomenon of superfluidity is to imagine each of its particles as a person crammed inside an MRT during rush hour. When the door opens and some of the people get off, the people who want to stay inside are also swept along because they are packed so tight together-there is a lot of friction between them. But if the packed MRT commuters somehow became unbelievably slippery, they would flow like a superfluid, with each moving person gliding easily past those who are standing still. A supersolid, being a special type of superfluid, exhibits frictionless flow while still maintaining its solid crystal structure. To understand how a supersolid could exist, you have to imagine the realm of quantum mechanics, the modern theory that explains many of the properties of matter. In quantum mechanics, there are different rules for the two categories of particles: fermions and bosons. Fermions include particles like electrons and atoms with an odd mass number, like helium-3. Bosons include atoms with an even mass number, like helium-4. The quantum-mechanical rule for fermions is that they cannot share a quantum state with other particles of their kind, but for bosons, there is no limit to the number that can be in the identical quantum state. Bosons ability to be in the same quantum state-in effect acting like a single atomleads to the remarkable properties that Chan and Kim discovered in supercooled helium-4. In a supersolid of helium-4, its identical helium-4 atoms are flowing around without any friction, rapidly changing places-but because all its particles are in the same quantum state, it remains a solid even though its component particles are continually flowing. If Chan and Kims experiment is replicated, it would confirm that all three states of matter can enter into the super state of Bose-Einstein condensation, in which all the particles have condensed into the same quantum-mechanical state. The existence of superfluids and supervapor had previously proven, but theorists had continued to debate about whether a supersolid was even possible.

State of Matter
States of matter are the distinct forms that different phases of matter take on. Solid, liquid and gas are the most common states of matter on Earth. However,

much of the baryonic matter of the universe is in the form of hot plasma, both as rarefied interstellar medium and as dense stars. Historically, the distinction is made based on qualitative differences in bulk properties. Solid is the state in which matter maintains a fixed volume and shape; liquid is the state in which matter maintains a fixed volume but adapts to the shape of its container; and gas is the state in which matter expands to occupy whatever volume is available. The state or phase of a given set of matter can change depending on pressure and temperature conditions, transitioning to other phases as these conditions change to favor their existence; for example, solid transitions to liquid with an increase in temperature. States of matter may also be defined in terms of phase transitions. A phase transition indicates a change in structure and can be recognized by an abrupt change in properties. By this definition, a distinct state of matter is any set of states distinguished from any other set of states by a phase transition. Water can be said to have several distinct solid states. The appearance of superconductivity is associated with a phase transition, so there are superconductive states. Likewise, ferromagnetic states are demarcated by phase transitions and have distinctive properties. When the change of state occurs in stages the intermediate steps are called mesophases. Such phases have been exploited by the introduction of liquid crystal technology. More recently, distinctions between states have been based on differences in molecular interrelationships. Solid is the state in which intermolecular attractions keep the molecules in fixed spatial relationships. Liquid is the state in which intermolecular attractions keep molecules in proximity, but do not keep the molecules in fixed relationships. Gas is that state in which the molecules are comparatively separated and intermolecular attractions have relatively little effect on their respective motions. Plasma is a highly ionized gas that occurs at high temperatures. The intermolecular forces created by ionic attractions and repulsions give these compositions distinct properties, for which reason plasma is described as a fourth state of matter. Forms of matter that are not composed of molecules and are organized by different forces can also be considered different states of matter. Superfluids (like Fermionic condensate) and the quarkgluon plasma are examples.

The Three Classical States

Each of the classical states of matter, unlike plasma for example, can transition directly into any of the other classical states.

The particles (ions, atoms or molecules) are packed closely together. The forces between particles are strong enough so that the particles cannot move freely but can

only vibrate. As a result, a solid has a stable, definite shape, and a definite volume. Solids can only change their shape by force, as when broken or cut. In crystalline solids, the particles (atoms, molecules, or ions) are packed in a regularly ordered, repeating pattern. There are many different crystal structures, and the same substance can have more than one structure (or solid phase). For example, iron has a body-centred cubic structure at temperatures below 912 C, and a face-centred cubic structure between 912 and 1394 C. Ice has fifteen known crystal structures, or fifteen solid phases which exist at various temperatures and pressures. Glasses and other non-crystalline, amorphous solids without long-range order are not thermal equilibrium ground states; therefore they are described below as nonclassical states of matter. Solids can be transformed into liquids by melting, and liquids can be transformed into solids by freezing. Solids can also change directly into gases through the process of sublimation.

A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid which is able to conform to the shape of its container but retains a (nearly) constant volume independent of pressure. The volume is definite if the temperature and pressure are constant. When a solid is heated above its melting point, it becomes liquid, given that the pressure is higher than the triple point of the substance. Intermolecular (or interatomic or interionic) forces are still important, but the molecules have enough energy to move relative to each other and the structure is mobile. This means that the shape of a liquid is not definite but is determined by its container. The volume is usually greater than that of the corresponding solid, the most well-known exception being water, H 2O. The highest temperature at which a given liquid can exist is its critical temperature.
Gas A gas is a compressible fluid. Not only will a gas conform to the shape of its container but it will also expand to fill the container.

In a gas, the molecules have enough kinetic energy so that the effect of intermolecular forces is small (or zero for an ideal gas), and the typical distance between neighboring molecules is much greater than the molecular size. A gas has no definite shape or volume, but occupies the entire container in which it is confined. A liquid may be converted to a gas by heating at constant pressure to the boiling point, or else by reducing the pressure at constant temperature. At temperatures below its critical temperature, a gas is also called a vapor, and can be liquefied by compression alone without cooling. A vapor can exist in equilibrium with a liquid (or solid), in which case the gas pressure equals the vapor pressure of the liquid (or solid).

A supercritical fluid (SCF) is a gas whose temperature and pressure are above the critical temperature and critical pressure respectively. In this state, the distinction between liquid and gas disappears. A supercritical fluid has the physical properties of a gas, but its high density confers solvent properties in some cases which lead to useful applications. For example, supercritical carbon dioxide is used to extract caffeine in the manufacture of decaffeinated coffee.

Non Classical States


Glass is a non-crystalline or amorphous solid material that exhibits a glass transition when heated towards the liquid state. Glasses can be made of quite different classes of materials: inorganic networks (such as window glass, made of silicate plus additives), metallic alloys, ionic melts, aqueous solutions, molecular liquids, and polymers. Thermodynamically, a glass is in a metastable state with respect to its crystalline counterpart. The conversion rate, however, is practically zero.
Crystals with some degree of disorder

A plastic crystal is a molecular solid with long-range positional order but with constituent molecules retaining rotational freedom; in an orientational glass this degree of freedom is frozen in a quenched disordered state. Similarly, in a spin glass magnetic disorder is frozen.
Liquid crystal states Liquid crystal states have properties intermediate between mobile liquids and ordered solids. Generally, they are able to flow like a liquid but exhibiting long-range order. For example, the nematic phase consists of long rod-like molecules such asparaazoxyanisole, which is nematic in the temperature range 118136 C. In this state the molecules flow as in a liquid, but they all point in the same direction (within each domain) and cannot rotate freely.

Other types of liquid crystals are described in the main article on these states. Several types have technological importance, for example, in liquid crystal displays.
Magnetically ordered Transition metal atoms often have magnetic moments due to the net spin of electrons which remain unpaired and do not form chemical bonds. In some solids the magnetic moments on different atoms are ordered and can form a ferromagnet, an antiferromagnet or a ferrimagnet.

In a ferromagnetfor instance, solid ironthe magnetic moment on each atom is aligned in the same direction (within a magnetic domain). If the domains are also aligned, the solid is a permanent magnet, which is magnetic even in the absence of an external magnetic field. The magnetization disappears when the magnet is heated to the Curie point, which for iron is 768 C.

An antiferromagnet has two networks of equal and opposite magnetic moments which cancel each other out, so that the net magnetization is zero. For example, in nickel (II) oxide (NiO), half the nickel atoms have moments aligned in one direction and half in the opposite direction. In a ferrimagnet, the two networks of magnetic moments are opposite but unequal, so that cancellation is incomplete and there is a non-zero net magnetization. An example is magnetite (Fe3O4), which contains Fe 2+ and Fe3+ ions with different magnetic moments.

Copolymers can undergo microphase separation to form a diverse array of periodic nanostructures, as shown in the example of the styrene-butadiene-styrene block copolymer shown at right. Microphase separation can be understood by analogy to the phase separation between oil and water. Due to chemical incompatibility between the blocks, block copolymers undergo a similar phase separation. However, because the blocks are covalently bonded to each other, they cannot demix macroscopically as water and oil can, and so instead the blocks form nanometer-sized structures. Depending on the relative lengths of each block and the overall block topology of the polymer, many morphologies can be obtained, each its own phase of matter.

Low-temperature States

Close to absolute zero, some liquids form a second liquid state described as superfluid because it has zero viscosity (or infinite fluidity; i.e., flowing without friction). This was discovered in 1937 for helium which forms a superfluid below the lambda temperature of 2.17 K. In this state it will attempt to "climb" out of its container. It also has infinite thermal conductivity so that no temperature gradient can form in a superfluid. Placing a super fluid in a spinning container will result in quantized vortices. These properties are explained by the theory that the common isotope helium-4 forms a BoseEinstein condensate (see next section) in the superfluid state. More recently, Fermionic condensate superfluids have been formed at even lower temperatures by the rare isotope helium-3 and by lithium-6.
Bose-Einstein condensates

In 1924, Albert Einstein and Satyendra Nath Bose predicted the "Bose-Einstein condensate," (BEC) sometimes referred to as the fifth state of matter. In a BEC, matter stops behaving as independent particles, and collapses into a single quantum state that can be described with a single, uniform wave function. In the gas phase, the Bose-Einstein condensate remained an unverified theoretical prediction for many years. In 1995 the research groups of Eric Cornell and Carl

Wieman, of JILA at the University of Colorado at Boulder, produced the first such condensate experimentally. A Bose-Einstein condensate is "colder" than a solid. It may occur when atoms have very similar (or the same) quantum levels, at temperatures very close to absolute zero (273.15 C).
Fermionic condensates A fermionic condensate is similar to the Bose-Einstein condensate but composed of fermions. The Pauli Exclusion Principle prevents fermions from entering the same quantum state, but a pair of fermions can behave as a boson, and multiple such pairs can then enter the same quantum state without restriction. Rydberg molecules

One of the metastable states of strongly non-ideal plasma is Rydberg matter, which forms upon condensation of excited atoms. These atoms can also turn into ions and electrons if they reach a certain temperature. In April 2009, Nature reported the creation of Rydberg molecules from a Rydberg atom and a ground state atom, confirming that such a state of matter could exist. The experiment was performed using ultracold rubidium atoms.
Quantum Hall states A Quantum Hall State gives rise to quantized Hall voltage measured in the direction perpendicular to the current flow. A quantum spin Hall state is a theoretical phase that may pave the way for the development of electronic devices that dissipate less energy and generate less heat. This is a derivation of the Quantum Hall state of matter. Strange matter

Strange matter is a type of quark matter that may exist inside some neutron stars close to the TolmanOppenheimerVolkoff limit (approximately 23 solar masses). May be stable at lower energy states once formed.

High-energy States
Plasma (ionized gas)

Plasmas or ionized gases can exist at temperatures starting at several thousand degrees Celsius, where they consist of free charged particles, usually in equal numbers, such as ions and electrons. Plasma, like gas, is a state of matter that does not have definite shape or volume. Unlike gases, plasmas may selfgenerate magnetic fields and electric currents, and respond strongly and collectively to electromagnetic forces. The particles that make up plasmas have electric charges, so plasma can conduct electricity. Two examples of plasma are the charged air produced by lightning, and a star such as our own sun. As a gas is heated, electrons begin to leave the atoms, resulting in the presence of free electrons, which are not bound to nuclei, and ions, which are chemical species that contain unequal number of electrons and protons, and therefore possess an electrical

charge. The free electric charges make the plasma electrically conductive so that it responds strongly to electromagnetic fields. At very high temperatures, such as those present in stars, it is assumed that essentially all electrons are "free," and that very high-energy plasma is essentially bare nuclei swimming in a sea of electrons. Plasma is the most common state of non-dark matter in the universe. Plasma can be considered as a gas of highly ionized particles, but the powerful interionic forces lead to distinctly different properties, so that it is usually considered as a different phase or state of matter.
Quark-gluon plasma

Quark-gluon plasma is a phase in which quarks become free and able to move independently (rather than being perpetually bound into particles) in a sea of gluons (subatomic particles that transmit the strong force that binds quarks together); this is similar to splitting molecules into atoms. This state may be briefly attainable in particle accelerators, and allows scientists to observe the properties of individual quarks, and not just theorize. See also Strangeness production. Weakly symmetric matter: for up to 10 12 seconds after the Big Bang the strong, weak and electromagnetic forces were unified. Strongly symmetric matter: for up to 1036 seconds after the Big Bang the energy density of the universe was so high that the four forces of nature strong, weak, electromagnetic, and gravitational are thought to have been unified into one single force. As the universe expanded, the temperature and density dropped and the gravitational force separated, a process called symmetry breaking. Quark-gluon plasma was discovered at CERN in 2000.

Very High Energy States

The gravitational singularity predicted by general relativity to exist at the center of a black hole is not a phase of matter; it is not a material object at all (although the mass-energy of matter contributed to its creation) but rather a property of space-time at a location.

Other Proposed States

Degenerate matter

Under extremely high pressure, ordinary matter undergoes a transition to a series of exotic states of matter collectively known as degenerate matter. In these conditions, the structure of matter is supported by the Pauli Exclusion Principle. These are of great interest to astrophysicists, because these high-pressure conditions are believed to exist inside stars that have used up their fusion fuel", such as white dwarfs and neutron stars. Electron-degenerate matter is found inside white dwarf stars. Electrons remain bound to atoms but are able to transfer to adjacent atoms. Neutron-degenerate matter is found

in neutron stars. Vast gravitational pressure compresses atoms so strongly that the electrons are forced to combine with protons via inverse beta-decay, resulting in a superdense conglomeration of neutrons. (Normally free neutrons outside an atomic nucleus will decay with a half-life of just under 15 minutes, but in a neutron star, as in the nucleus of an atom, other effects stabilize the neutrons.)

A supersolid is a spatially ordered material (that is, a solid or crystal) with superfluid properties. Similar to a superfluid, a supersolid is able to move without friction but retains a rigid shape. Although a supersolid is a solid, it exhibits so many characteristic properties different from other solids that many argue it is another state of matter.
String-net liquid

In a string-net liquid, atoms have apparently unstable arrangement, like a liquid, but are still consistent in overall pattern, like a solid. When in a normal solid state, the atoms of matter align themselves in a grid pattern, so that the spin of any electron is the opposite of the spin of all electrons touching it. But in a string-net liquid, atoms are arranged in some pattern which would require some electrons to have neighbors with the same spin. This gives rise to curious properties, as well as supporting some unusual proposals about the fundamental conditions of the universe itself.

A superglass is a phase of matter which is characterized at the same time by superfluidity and a frozen amorphous structure.