Meaning Bose-Einstein Condensed State

Which Bose-Einstein condensed state:

The Bose-Einstein condensed state (BEC for Bose–Einstein condensate) is considered the fifth state of aggregation of matter and was first seen in 1995.

Currently, 5 states of aggregation of matter are recognized, being 3 of them, the solid, liquid and gaseous state, the basic ones; being naturally observable on the Earth’s surface.

In this sense, the fourth state of matter is plasmatic, which we can naturally observe outside our planet, such as in the sun. The fifth state of matter would be the Bose-Einstein condensate, observable only at the subatomic level.

It is called “condensed” due to the process of condensation at temperatures near absolute zero (-273.15ºC) of gas made of subatomic particles that possess a type of spin quantum. A spin quantum or spin, in Spanish, is called the rotation of the elementary particles themselves.

In general, if this gas can be condensed, a subatomic superfluid called Bose-Einstein condensate is obtained, the fifth state of aggregation of matter observed for the first time in 1995.

The definition of gas, in this context, appeals to the natural and dispersed separation that characterizes gases, therefore, condensing these invisible particles to the human eye has been one of the technological advances in the area of ​​quantum physics.

Characteristics of the Bose-Einstein condensate

The Bose-Einstein condensed state has 2 unique characteristics called superfluidity and superconductivity. The superfluidity means that the matter stops having friction and the superconductivity indicates zero electrical resistance.

Due to these characteristics, the Bose-Einstein condensed state has properties that can contribute to the transmission of energy by light, for example, if the technology allows extreme temperatures to be reached.

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The fifth state of matter

The Bose-Einstein condensed state, also called as the quantum ice cubewas only known from the theoretical studies of the physicists Albert Einstein (1879-1955) and Satyendra Nath Bose (1894-1974) who predicted in 1924 the existence of such a state.

The fifth state only existed in theory until 1995, due to the difficulties in achieving the 2 necessary conditions for it:

  • Production of low temperatures close to absolute zero and
  • Creation of gas from subatomic particles with a certain spin.

Considering the historical background, the Bose-Einstein condensed state was only possible in 1995 thanks to two great advances:

First, it is due to the physicists Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, Steven Chu, and William D. Phillips the discovery of a laser light capable of trapping atoms (decreasing their movement speed) and at the same time managing to cool them down to temperatures close to absolute zero (-273.15ºC). Thanks to this advance, the mentioned physicists receive the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997.

Second, physicists Eric A. Cornell and Carl Wieman from the University of Colorado, when they manage to group 2,000 individual atoms into a “super atom”, which would become the Bose-Einstein condensate.

In this way, it was possible to see for the first time in 1995 the new state of matter baptized as the Bose-Einstein condensate in homage to its first theorists.

The 4 states of matter that we currently know encompass our natural environment. The 5th state of matter defines aggregations at subatomic levels, just like the discoveries of other states from the 20th century.

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