How This New State of Matter Is Made With Lasers, Crystals, and “Frustration”

In March of 2019, a team of scientists reported
they managed to use a laser pulse to create a crystal with giant repeating structures
that are much larger than those in ordinary crystals, what’s known as a “supercrystal.” While that’s admittedly cool, lasers have
actually been used to transform materials into more ordered states for decades, but
what made this special was their supercrystal could stay in that state for at least a year. This is one of the first examples of a material
that achieved long-term stability after it had been rearranged using such a short laser
pulse, and the key was a lot of “frustration”. The scientists were looking for hidden states
of matter by taking the matter out of its comfortable state, what’s known as its ground
state. When blasted by photons from a laser, the
electrons in matter get excited, before minimizing their energy again and quickly returning to
their normal state. In that heightened phase, or on the way back
down, the material may have properties the scientists are looking for, but they have
to act fast to spot them because they may not stick around for long. To accomplish this scientists blast the material
with a laser for just less than a picosecond before hitting it with a gentler probe light
that reveals what’s happening. Of course, if they do find a state of a material
that’s doing something useful, it doesn’t do them much practical good if it’s gone
in the blink of an eye. So scientists figured out a way to get a material
to an excited state and keep it there using what’s known as frustration. Now I’m not talking about the frustration
you feel when a parent tells you to pause your multiplayer game in the middle of a match. Frustration in this sense is when the material
is not allowed to do what it wants to do. So…okay I guess they are kind of similar, actually. But while you may want to play Fortnite, materials
want to minimize their energy without constraints. So the scientists grew a material that would
have constraints, one layer at a time. They started with a crystal substrate they
would use to grow single atomic layers of their material. Their material was made of lead titanate and
strontium titanate. But the substrate they used to grow those
two compounds was a size in between them, so, the strontium titanate had to stretch
out, while the lead titanate had to compress to conform. As these contorted layers were grown, they
were stacked in an alternating pattern. This added another level of frustration. Lead titanate is ferroelectric, meaning the
material has positive and negative electric poles. Strontium titanate is not. Alternating layers with these two properties
caused the electric polarization vectors to curve in on themselves unnaturally, like a
vortex. When the scientists put it all together they
got one frustrated material with multiple phases that are spread randomly throughout. All it needed to fall in line was just a little
nudge. With a laser. A sub-picosecond pulse of light excited the
material. With the added energy the material arranged
itself into repeating unit cells with a volume a million times greater than the lead titanate
or strontium titanate it was based on. It wasn’t just a crystal anymore. It was a supercrystal. it might even stay that way forever at room
temperature, but the study only lasted one year. At last, an intermediate phase was captured
and frozen, instead of vanishing as quickly as it came. The results will help scientists learn about
and model these types of phase transitions, and may one day lead to nanoscale materials
that aren’t possible to create with traditional fabrication. These materials could have properties, like
new forms of polar, magnetic, and electronic states, that don’t exist in nature. Looks like a little bit of frustration now, could have a big reward some day later. While the crystal was stable at room temperature,
it returned to its previous state when heated to 176 degrees celsius. Another pulse from a laser transformed it
right back again. If you liked this video, check out this one
I did on a new state of matter that’s both liquid and solid at the same time. Make sure to subscribe and thanks for watching.

100 thoughts on “How This New State of Matter Is Made With Lasers, Crystals, and “Frustration”

  1. Hi, thanks for watching! Want more on lasers and states of matter? Check out this video on the Shanghai Superintense Ultrafast Laser that could create matter from energy:

  2. Does he live with his mom? Oh, wait…. everyone of his "generation" lives with his parents. No wonder he references frustrations to a parents remonstrations.

  3. Not to be confused with the new forms of matter you'd encounter at Da Club after some lasers, crystal, and 'frustration' 😆

  4. It's really annoying to hear "scientist" because it's so general. It would be nice to call the researchers in their proper title.

  5. I had an idea to make graphene batteries. Just use a laser to put the graphene on a substrate for batteries or supercapacitors. I want to put some in a rc jet.

  6. You guys must be dumb as a bag of hammers. The states of matter are the same as they've always been. Solid-Liquid-Gas. That about covers it. This is a real pathetic attempt at making an "informative" video. You guys need to fire your script writers and hire people that actually possess functional brains.

  7. Is it really possible for scientists to create something that don't exist in nature?
    I think it's more accurate to state that scientist create something undiscovered in nature.

  8. Whenever you hear about a new scientific or technological development, 95% of the time, lasers and or magnets will be involved somewhere.

  9. If they're using the strontium titanate does that mean that this Crystal fluoresces or is it at least photosensitive?

  10. in middle-school they thought us there are only solid,liquid,air and plasma… now it's just expanding and getting new things is just mind boggling

  11. I sense a new material for space ships if it stays the same in intense cold then that would be some very durable material.

  12. When do we get the crystals from Stargate. Seriously when I found out nuclear power is based on steam and not some magical rock, I was disappointed and felt like I have been lied to my whole life.

  13. Humanity's idea of science "Smash it to pieces then see how it works". A evolution, it appears it goes FAR more slowly than once thought.

  14. I would not bet nature hasn't done most anything you can come up with before you were ever in existence. I also believe nature comes up with scenarios we can't even dream of.

  15. Hmm, actually they just discovered topological conductivity which is another new state of matter. Hope you can make a vid about it. 👏🏿

  16. Thanks! I find materials science to be one of the coolest things going on in science today. Not only is it creating novel, strange, & useful materials right now, but it seems to hold the promise of endless possibilities. It strikes me that it is the one area of science most likely to yield science fiction-like results, starting today. I'd encourage any youth out there to investigate this seemingly boundless field. Thanks again. 𝓡𝓲𝓴𝓴𝓲 𝓣𝓲𝓴𝓴𝓲.

  17. Imagine a material that can reflect all cosmic radiation, be paper thin and very light. Or a material that can split one gas into two different substances, like CO2 to C and O2.

  18. 1:35 perfect example of creators having no idea what kind of interest their viewers have. gosh no one older than 15 plays fortnite please spare us the cringe.

  19. The method of bombarding one element with another has been used to bring out once-theoretical elements that were then added to the periodic table. If only we could get scientific minds to collectively show a middle finger to their military industrial complex funders and use their drive, intelligence and creativity to make life better for the parts of the world deliberately kept living in absolute poverty, filth, divisiveness and fear. That would be great. 🤘😜🤘

  20. Why does that seeker shirt have the straight line in the K taken out. My guess is that it represents "I" and this channel serves science and furthering our technological abilities.

  21. Do we know the consequences of this, or do we plan to find them out. You said the state could be held possibly forever at room temperature and then it was said the study lasted one year. Im guessing that alludes to the fact that the temperature changed. So what happened to the super crystal then?

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