Scientists have produced a new state of matter, namely a giant atom full of atoms. The scientists behind this findings published their study in the journal Physical Review Letters.
The foundation of the study
The theoretical research has been founded at TU Wien (Vienna) and at the Harvard University, while the practical experiment was fulfilled at the Rice University in Houston, Texas, in the US.
Bose-Einstein condensates and Rydberg atoms, just two of the very important atom physics theories, have been put together in this study.
A Bose-Einstein state of matter is made of the atoms at temperatures close to the Absolute Zero a.k.a. Zero Kelvin or -273.5 Celsius.
“Rydberg atoms” term defines the specific atom physics condition in which a single electron is orbiting around the atom’s nucleus at a high distance due to an elevated state of excitation.
Scientists have reproduced a Bose-Einstein state of matter using strontium atoms. Then, under a powerful laser beam, they transferred the energy to one of the strontium atoms which became Rydberg atom.
A giant atom full of atoms has been created
What puzzled the researchers was that the electron orbit around the Rydberg strontium atom was much larger than the usual distance between two strontium atoms in the Bose-Einstein state of matter.
Hence, the electron not just revolved around its atom’s nucleus, instead it was also revolving around various other atoms found within its orbit.
The study revealed that, depending on the extent of the Rydberg atom and the mass of the Bose-Einstein, the electron’s orbit can be so huge that it can include 170 supplementary strontium atoms.
Also, there is another surprising observation the scientists made. Usually, charged atoms’ nuclei bind electrons to them but, in the new study, it was observed that a charged electron can bind neutral atoms’ nuclei.
A giant atom full of atoms is characterized by a weak bond between atoms and electrons and it can only be observed at temperatures that are close to Absolute Zero. This unusual state of matter is known as Rydberg Polarons.