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The next chemical element can be another form of matter
Material posted: Publication date: 17-06-2018
Theoretical physicists have proposed a model in which nuclei with a mass greater than 300 can be a completely different, unfamiliar to us in the form of matter. It will not consist of protons and neutrons. According to their calculations, the next item after the heaviest known today — ohanneson — may be similar in structure to the depths of neutron stars. Potentially, such a substance may be a much more convenient energy source than nuclear or thermonuclear synthesis. A study published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

All known nuclei of chemical elements comprise protons and neutrons, which in turn are combinations of three quarks. A distinctive feature of this matter is that the quarks exist in bound States in three pieces. However, theorists suggest that there are other possible forms of existence of matter, where the quarks are not Packed in triplets. It is believed that this substance can maintain stability under extreme conditions, such as those typical of depths of neutron stars.

In the new work of physicists from the University of Toronto in Canada represent calculations according to which such a phase of matter may be stable starting with the next element. They call the substance "quark matter from the top and bottom quarks" (up, down quark matter — udQM). Also, this form should be the main state of normal baryonic matter. This potentially makes it a source of energy. This idea is not new — in 1984, a concept first put forward the most quoted physicist of our time, Edward Witten. However, his work was considered strange quark matter (SQM) composed of comparable fractions of the top, bottom and strange quarks. In a new article, the assumption is actually heavier strange quarks are not needed for this.

One of the conclusions of the new work is that beyond the known periodic table is a kind of "continent of stability" in contrast to the"island of stability" — a hypothetical region of actinide elements with large half-lives. The authors write that hypothetically udQM, you can get much easier than SQM, however this may require a much larger ratio of neutrons to protons than is usually characteristic of stable nuclei. Now the authors intend to investigate whether it is possible to obtain udQM in accelerators and found in cosmic rays.

Graph showing the hypothetical "continent of stability"
Holdom et al./American Physical Society

By using such a substance should be relatively easy to obtain energy — enough to send a neutron or heavy nuclei, which will be absorbed and go to a new state. Since udQM must be the primary state of matter, the total weight after absorption will be slightly reduced, and the difference to stand out in the form of energy, primarily in the form of gamma radiation. Compared with the known methods of producing nuclear energy, such a scheme should be easier to run and maintain.


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