Physicists have discovered a new liquid phase of matter, predicted 100 years ago
Researchers have confirmed the existence of a ferroelectric nematic liquid crystal phase, paving the way for many technical innovations based on this class of materials..
Nematic liquid crystals combine the characteristics of the behavior of a liquid and a solid, which allows them to control light, therefore their used to make LCD displays. Such materials consist of microstructures in the form of threads with oppositely charged ends, the direction of which in traditional crystal variants is chosen randomly, but is divided equally..
In the 1910s, Nobel laureates Peter Debye and Max Born suggested that in a properly designed liquid crystal, molecules could spontaneously form a polar ordered state. In this case, all the molecules will be directed in the same direction, and they can be rotated using an electric field. However, it was only more than 100 years later that scientists managed to discover this elusive phase..
A team of physicists from the University of Colorado Boulder studied the newly synthesized organic molecule RM734. During their research, they discovered the presence of a strange phase in the material, which was 100-1000 times more sensitive to electric fields than usual. This suggests that the molecules in the liquid crystal exhibit a strong polar order.
The scientists also determined that when the material cools, individual spots spontaneously form in the material, in which the molecules are located more evenly than expected, which was additional confirmation ferroelectric nematic fluid.
The discovery could spur many innovations, including new a type screens display and computer memory.
Recall that last year, researchers discovered the first native ferroelectric.
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: University of Colorado at Boulder