The discovery could prove useful in a variety of applications. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Jose Manuel Suarez
A new 'chain-melted state' makes it possible for atoms to exist as both a solid and a liquid at the same time.
Up until now, it was generally understood that the atoms that make up physical material can exist in only one of three states - solid, liquid or gas.
As it turns out however, this may not be entirely accurate.
The research, which was carried out by a team led by scientists from the University of Edinburgh, used computer simulations to study the existence of what has become known as a 'chain-melted state'.
They found that if potassium is exposed to high enough pressures and temperatures, its atoms will form a solid lattice structure that contains a second set of potassium atoms in a fluid arrangement.
It is believed that half a dozen different elements can achieve this state under the right conditions.
"Potassium is one of the simplest metals we know, yet if you squeeze it, it forms very complicated structures," said study lead author Dr. Andreas Hermann.
"We have shown that this unusual but stable state is part solid and part liquid."
"Recreating this unusual state in other materials could have all kinds of applications."
Source: Phys.org | Comments (6)