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Physicists Find Solid-State 'Triple Point' In Material That Conducts, Insulates

Soulskill posted about 8 months ago | from the it-slices-it-dices-it-makes-julienne-fries dept.

Hardware 35

vinces99 writes "It is well known to scientists that the three common phases of water – ice, liquid and vapor – can exist stably together only at a particular temperature and pressure, called the triple point. Also well known is that the solid form of many materials can have numerous phases, but it is difficult to pinpoint the temperature and pressure for the points at which three solid phases can coexist stably. Physicists now have made the first-ever accurate determination of a solid-state triple point in a substance called vanadium dioxide, which is known for switching rapidly – in as little as one 10-trillionth of a second – from an electrical insulator to a conductor, and thus could be useful in various technologies. 'These solid-state triple points are fiendishly difficult to study, essentially because the different shapes of the solid phases makes it hard for them to match up happily at their interfaces,' said David Cobden, a University of Washington physics professor who is lead author of a paper about the research published in Nature. 'There are, in theory, many triple points hidden inside a solid, but they are very rarely probed.'"

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35 comments

A conversation with David Cobden (3, Funny)

localman57 (1340533) | about 8 months ago | (#44635593)

Professor Cobden:

These solid-state triple points are fiendishly difficult to study, essentially because the different shapes of the solid phases makes it hard for them to match up happily at their interfaces

Me:

Oh, yeah. That's pretty cool. So...you..uh...see that new Pacific Rim movie? Those giant robots were pretty awesome, huh?

Re:A conversation with David Cobden (2)

mcgrew (92797) | about 8 months ago | (#44637979)

LOL, well moderated. The possibilities of what this research will lead to are certainly unimaginable to anybody, even the scientists working on it now.

This is really some amazing stuff, imagine transistors using the properties they're researching?

Stories like this and comments like yours (and comments that teach) are why I still come here.

Re:A conversation with David Cobden (1)

Khyber (864651) | about 8 months ago | (#44639249)

"This is really some amazing stuff, imagine transistors using the properties they're researching?"

I could only assume they'd be very large given three states need to coexist simultaneously., and thus these are possibly inefficient, even if novel.

Re:A conversation with David Cobden (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44639711)

The triple point are looks like it is on the order of 100-200 nm square. Their technique would be able to make something on the order of a couple 20 nm square or smaller, although it would not have worked with their optical based measurement scheme to observe the different phases. The full apparatus was much larger (~ 1 mm square), although it was such to mechanically strain the nanowires very precisely so they could explore the phase diagram. In principle the actual interaction area could be very small, but like 99% of the ideas for novel computing, there is no obvious path to mass manufacturing on a complex chip.

Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44635643)

I had a three phase experience during sex once...but I digress.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44635685)

You stuck a 3-phase power cable up your butt?

Keep your high school concepts to yourself... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44635729)

If you didn't know that what triple point meant before heading the summary please do us a favor and keep your thoughts to yourself unless you're asking a question.

Re:Keep your high school concepts to yourself... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44635809)

Some of us have have had brains replace high school chemistry concepts by more practical things - like how to spell common words. As a result, the wikipedia links can't hurt.

But, regardless, we're glad you've found a way to feel superior to everyone else.

Re:Keep your high school concepts to yourself... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44635985)

Wikipedia link is fine as a refresher. The explanation in the summary felt a bit patronising to me and was also oddly specific in mentioning water when this is true of virtually all materials (maybe all materials).

Re:Keep your high school concepts to yourself... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44641615)

There would only be two comments if people followed that rule. Does other people being amused actually hurt you?

Is that 0.1 picoseconds? (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about 8 months ago | (#44635747)

Too tired to think

Re:Is that 0.1 picoseconds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44635909)

Too tired to think

Welcome to the, uh, the, ummmm, *snore*

Re:Is that 0.1 picoseconds? (1)

serbanp (139486) | about 8 months ago | (#44635963)

nope, tens of picoseconds. I'm assuming trillion=10^12.

Trouble (4, Funny)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 8 months ago | (#44635827)

We all know about the trouble with triples

Re:Trouble (0)

sexconker (1179573) | about 8 months ago | (#44636969)

You all know about the Trouble in River City, but did you know about Cool Farts?

[Read as if you're Robert Preston in The Music Man addressing the town]

Now we're all familiar with hot farts here on Slashdot. That sharp exit of heated gas that warms your anus for a few seconds during its escape.
It's a unique sensation, and it's often uncomfortable! But my friends there is another way to fart. Yes, I said another way!

Why just last week I was sittin'. Sittin' in this very chair, browsin' this very site.
Yes I was sittin'. And while I was sittin' I felt that familiar pressure. The pressure we all know all too well. The pressure of a tight little bubble of gas winding it's way through my bowels.

But this time it was different. As I felt that fart knocking on my door I took a look around. I say, I looked around for anyone who would see or smell or hear.
Friends, family, coworkers, even gosh darn strangers. But my friends the coast was clear. Yes I was free and clear to let'r rip!

But I decided to try something a little bit different. I passed on my usual lean and "foof". I opted against the raucous blast. I say I did something just a little bit different that made all the difference in the world.

Oh I leaned to the left. I leaned to the left and raised my right cheek off the chair. I raised it up and I put it back down. Right on the right edge of that chair.
Then I leaned to the right. This time to the right, raising my left cheek up and settin' it down.

Now over there on the left edge of the seat was one ass cheek. And way over there on the right edge was the other.
But right in the middle, free and clear and stretched nice and taught was my anus. And my friends what a glorious, clean pink anus it is. I took that anus and I opened the valve nice and slow. Like openin' a shaken up bottle of pop.

And just like that bottle of pop my anus let out a slow "hisssssssss". Yes a hiss! And as I savored the extended release of that one little fart, I felt a sensation. A sensation like none I'd ever felt before on this green Earth.

There was a coolness. A coolness from that escaping gas that refreshed my anus and rectum better than one of ol' Doc Miller's suppositories. It was a coolness that lasted. Stayed with me all day long! It put a skip in my step and a twinkle in my eye and that's why, my friends, I'm here today. Tellin' you about this new great way to fart.
Reply to This Share

Re:Trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44638769)

Why don't you and that shit eating idiot from the library go probe each others anuses, play with your own feces, fuck off, and leave the rest of us alone?

That would be awesome.

Re:Trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44637693)

They find each other too well. ... oh, my bad - using text-to-speech - not tribles.

Time for an upgrade (1)

WarJolt (990309) | about 8 months ago | (#44635989)

So um... when will my terahertz computer be available?

Re:Time for an upgrade (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44636041)

As soon as you're willing to pay for the 400 cores.

At 2.5 Gigahertz anyway. Obviously you can choose other speeds.

Thanks for the great story submission (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 8 months ago | (#44636409)

First time since college, I feel highly interested and thrilled again from
something having to do with 'chemistry' (sorry folks).
(My chem. teacher hated my guts, it was undeserved, and he forever
doused the flame I had).

Not so fast... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44636841)

as little as one 10-trillionth of a second – from an electrical insulator to a conductor...

Not as fast as a woman can change her mind, though...

Re:Not so fast... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44637575)

vo2 is commonly used in many applications area, electronics, optics, materials..
It is good to know that the physics behind is being revealed

Triple...that would mean 3 phases... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44638011)

Why are they only discussing a biphasic change?? Conducting vs Insulating is only ONE change. If they are talking about a triple point, shouldn't they discuss more than one property change? Or are the three Vanadium dioxide phases all insulating (or conducting) and that switches at the triple point? I'm just a chemist...who has spent 3 years looking at phase changes in solids....please, someone show me what I am not seeing here.

Re:Triple...that would mean 3 phases... (2)

khallow (566160) | about 8 months ago | (#44638599)

From the article,

In 1959, researchers at Bell Laboratories discovered vanadium dioxideâ(TM)s ability to rearrange electrons and shift from an insulator to a conductor, called a metal-insulator transition. Twenty years later it was discovered that there are two slightly different insulating phases.

The new research shows that those two insulating phases and the conducting phase in solid vanadium dioxide can coexist stably at 65 degrees Celsius, give or take a tenth of a degree (65 degrees C is equal to 149 degrees Fahrenheit).

So three phases and two parameters which vary are temperature and stress on a wire of the material.

Re:Triple...that would mean 3 phases... (0)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about 8 months ago | (#44644589)

Conducting and insulating are not phases of matter. What you are not seeing here is a quality education.

Re:Triple...that would mean 3 phases... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44645511)

You're nearly 100 years behind the times here. Conducting and insulating states can easily be phases of matter, and are frequently referred to as such in various systems. There are some heavily studied systems that display transitions from insulating to conducting phases. In more extreme cases there is a lot of work on things like superconductor phase transitions, Mott insulator transitions, superinsulator phase transitions, etc. It would seem near impossible to have any exposure to condensed matter physics and not trip over a pile of phase diagrams [uni-stuttgart.de].

hmmm (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 8 months ago | (#44638397)

'There are, in theory, many triple points hidden inside a solid, but they are very rarely probed.'"

"There are, in theory, many g-points hidden inside my girlfriend, but they are very rarely probed."

Re:hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44639255)

No one's fault but yours.

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