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The fifth state of matter – Bose Einstein Condensate

The fifth state of matter or the Bose Einstein Condensate the has been recently created in the microgravity of the international Space station. This creation is a big achievement for the scientific community.

In our daily life we generally interact with three states of matter: solid, liquid and gas. The fourth state or plasma is a high Energy state and it occurs in high energy processes.

The fifth state of matter - Bose Einstein Condensate
States of matter

The creation of the Bose Einstein Condensates

To understand how the Bose Einstein condensates are created, it’s important to start by explaining the condensation process. During the process of condensation the gas molecules come together and condense into a liquid, the molecules get denser. This happens because there is a loss of energy, the exited atoms of a gas lose energy, so they slow down and start to collect.

The same process happens to form the Bose Einstein condensate matter, but it happens at super low temperatures that are the near absolute zero or the zero kelvin (-273 °C). At this temperature all molecular motion stops, atoms begin to clump together and they lose all their energy. Since there is no more energy to transfer all of the atoms have exactly the same level. The result of this clumping Is the Bose Einstein condensate.

The fifth state of matter - Bose Einstein Condensate

So in essence the Bose Einstein Condensate is formed by cooling a gas of extremely low density to super low temperatures near absolute zero.

The atoms of the Bose Einstein Condensate are the opposite of the atoms in plasma.

Plasma Bose Einstein Condensate
Super hot Super Cold
Excited atoms Unexcited atoms
Comparison between plasma and Bose Einstein Condensate

Why creating Bose Einstein Condensate in microgravity of the international space station ?

One limitation stands in the way of the formation of Bose Einstein Condensate, it is gravity. The Bose Einstein condensates are extremely fragile and the setups used to create them are incredibly delicate, so the pull of gravity felt on Earth make it impossible to create them. This makes their study unfeasible on earth.

The creation of Bose Einstein Condensates on the international space station will make the study of its properties easier. It was observed that the condensates in the microgravity of the international space station can be observed and measured longer than that on earth where the observation is possible for tens of milliseconds while on the international space station it increased to just over a second.

What makes the Bose Einstein Condensates interesting for the scientific studies ?

The Bose Einstein condensates are very fluid, they flow with zero friction, in addition they are superconductive, the electrons can move through a material with zero electrical resistance.

Some Experts also believe that the Bose Einstein condensate are related to the mysterious phenomena such as dark energy. The experiments on the international space station will help to:

  • Test of general relativity
  • Search for dark energy and gravitational waves
  • Better navigation of spacecrafts
  • Study of quantum mechanics on a macroscopic level
  • Prospecting for the subsurface minerals on moon and other planetary bodies.