While we all remember there being solids, liquids, and gasses from school, a new team of physicists has uncovered several exotic varieties that can exist under extreme pressure and temperatures.
One of these new states is one in which Potassium atoms exhibit properties of a solid and liquid at the same time. It would be like a sponge dripping water, that’s also made of water.
This unusual state could exist in the earth’s mantle but is generally not found in pure form, as it’s usually bound with other material(s). These types of simulations could help us study minerals and their behavior in extreme environments.
When Potassium is compressed to these extremes, the atoms arrange themselves in elaborate formation – five cylindrical tubes arranged in the shape of an X, with four long chains sitting amidst the assembly, like two individual, and non-intertwining materials.
Somehow these Potassium atoms divide into two loosely linked sub-lattices, but as scientists increased the heat, x-ray images showed the four chains vanishing, leading to much debate about what was actually happening.
The scientists turned to an AI machine that learns to predict behaviors based on prior examples. After being acclimated with small groups of Potassium atoms, the neural network learned quantum mechanics well enough to stimulate groups containing tens of thousands of atoms.
Originally posted by National Geographic: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/04/new-phase-matter-confirmed-solid-and-liquid-same-time-potassium-physics/