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 features of the behavior of a liquid and a solid, which allows them to control the light, so they were used to make LCD displays. Such materials consist of microstructures in the form of filaments with oppositely charged ends, the direction of which in traditional crystal variants is randomly selected, but is divided equally.
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In the 1910s, Nobel laureates Peter Debye and Max Born suggested that in a correctly designed liquid crystal, molecules can spontaneously form a polar ordered state. In this case, all molecules will be directed in one direction, and they can be rotated using an electric field. However, only after more than 100 years, scientists were able to discover this elusive phase.
A team of physicists from the University of Colorado at Boulder studied the recently synthesized organic molecule RM734. In the process of 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 show a strong polar order.
Scientists also determined that upon cooling, individual spots spontaneously form in the material, in which the molecules are more evenly distributed than expected, which became additional confirmation of the ferroelectric nematic fluid.
According to the researchers, the discovery could spur many innovations, including a new type of display screens and computer memory.
Recall that last year, researchers discovered the first native ferroelectric.
, University of Colorado at Boulder