New form of matter may lie just beyond the periodic table

June 15, 2018 by Lisa Zyga, Phys.org feature
udqm
The new theoretical results suggest that udQM may have a stable configuration in the “continent of stability,” indicating that searches should look in the region with large mass, A (>300) and sufficiently large charge Z, Z/A~0.3. Credit: Holdom et al. ©2018 American Physical Society

Currently, the heaviest element on the periodic table is oganesson, which has an atomic mass of 294 and was officially named in 2016. Like every element on the periodic table, nearly all of oganesson's mass comes from protons and neutrons (types of baryons) that are themselves made of three quarks each. A crucial feature of all known baryonic matter is that its quarks are bound together so tightly by the strong force that they are inseparable. As particles made of bound quarks (such as protons and neutrons) are called hadrons, scientists refer to the ground state of baryonic matter as "hadronic matter."

But oganesson may be one of the last of its kind. In a new paper, scientists predict that elements with masses greater than approximately 300 may be composed of freely flowing "up" and "down" quarks—the same kind that protons and neutrons are made of, but these quarks wouldn't be bound into triplets. The scientists predict that this type of , called "up down quark matter," or udQM, would be stable for extremely heavy elements that might exist just beyond the end of the current periodic table. If it could be produced on Earth, quark matter has the potential to be used as a new source of energy.

The possibility that heavy has a udQM ground state rather than a hadronic one is described in a paper published in Physical Review Letters by University of Toronto physicists Bob Holdom, Jing Ren, and Chen Zhang.

The idea that some kind of quark matter might form the ground state of baryonic matter is not new. In a famous paper from 1984, physicist Edward Witten suggested that strange quark matter (SQM) might fulfill this role. However, SQM consists of comparable amounts of up, down, and strange quarks. One of the new results of the latest study is that quark matter without strange quarks, i.e., udQM, has lower bulk energy per baryon than either SQM or hadronic matter, making it energetically favorable.

"Physicists have been searching for SQM for decades," the researchers told Phys.org. "From our results, many searches may have been looking in the wrong place. ... It is quite a basic question to answer: What is the lowest energy state of a sufficiently large number of quarks? We argue that the answer is not nuclear matter or strange SQM, but rather udQM, a state composed of nearly massless up and down quarks."

The idea that quark matter may lie just beyond the is somewhat surprising because, in general, quark matter is thought to exist only in extreme environments, such as the cores of neutron stars, heavy ion colliders, hypothetical quark stars, and within the first milliseconds of the early universe. When produced in a collider, quark matter typically decays within a fraction of a second into stable hadronic matter (with bound quarks).

The physicists hope that, if the minimum mass of elements with a udQM is not much more than 300, it may be possible to produce this new form of stable matter by fusing together some of the other heavy elements. They expect that one of the challenges will be to supply enough neutrons in the reaction, but that udQM may be easier to produce than SQM. One reason for their optimism is that the new results point to the existence of a "continent of stability"—a large region in which udQM may have the most stable configuration, which may guide future production attempts.

If producing udQM presents difficulties, the researchers note that it can also be searched for on Earth, since it can arrive via cosmic rays and then become trapped in normal matter. In the future, the researchers plan to explore the possibility of searching for quark matter, both on Earth and in more distant locations.

"We would like to know more about the abundance of quark matter in the universe," the researchers said. "We are thus looking at the conversion rate of nuclear matter to udQM inside neutron stars. We would also like to identify those searches for SQM that are most relevant for udQM. It is then of interest to consider how those searches could be improved upon and/or extended."

If scientists could produce or find quark matter of any kind, one very intriguing potential application is energy generation.

"Knowing better where to look for udQM might then help to achieve an old idea, that of using quark matter as a new source of energy," the researchers said. "If matter is found (or produced in accelerators), it may be stored and then fed with slow neutrons or heavy ions. The absorption of these particles means a lower total mass and thus a release of energy, mostly in the form of gamma radiation. Unlike nuclear fusion, this is a process that should be easy to initiate and control."

Explore further: Neutron stars cast light on quark matter

More information: Bob Holdom, Jing Ren, and Chen Zhang. "Quark Matter May Not Be Strange." Physical Review Letters. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.120.222001 (open access)

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LED Guy
4.4 / 5 (7) Jun 15, 2018
This seems to hint that so-called neutron stars are a misnomer. If udQM is stable at A>300 then by default a neutron star would be A~4x10^56 should contain a significant fraction of udQM.

It would be nice to see the calculations extended to see if they could propose an equation of state for neutron stars and offer a path to experimental validation that might be easier than synthesizing atoms with A>300.
Ryan1981
4 / 5 (5) Jun 15, 2018
One reason for their optimism is that the new results point to the existence of a "continent of stability"—a large region in which udQM may have the most stable configuration


Anyone know what timescale they have in mind when they say "stable"? My first guess would be a fraction of a second since we haven't found any in nature (or are they WIMPS? :P)
katesisco
1 / 5 (6) Jun 15, 2018
I am just rereading Sam Kean's The Disappearing Spoon; the last chapter deals with the island of stability. I recall the interest in monoatomic elements, those ceramic like that don't obey valence bonding rules. I wonder if our little neighborhood with its unusual and rare combination that make life, isn't the result of the Magellanic galaxy blowing apart. Did the explosion jiggle the universal constant just enough for us to be here?
Beckler
4 / 5 (3) Jun 15, 2018
It seems even quarks with their various properties and limitations are arbitrary though. Will be nice when we fully understand their nature, we can presumably create truly designer, non-quark matter, with any properties we desire. Atoms are quickly becoming obsolete...
eric96
not rated yet Jun 15, 2018
Maybe there is reason to believe that the definition of an element needs to be updated; that's problem with non-mathematical definitions...they are time bound and generalized. What made sense then makes less sense now. All I have to say is they better have a half life greater than 1 millisecond, so you can see I have a bit of a problem with Oganesson. But here's the thing, its theoretically possible to take a spoonful of matter from a neutron star, so from that point of view it is an element. However, if its not something you can take with a spoon and has a half life less than 1 millisecond then it really shouldn't be called an element; it needs a distinct name.
Phy7icz
5 / 5 (2) Jun 15, 2018
One reason for their optimism is that the new results point to the existence of a "continent of stability"—a large region in which udQM may have the most stable configuration


Anyone know what timescale they have in mind when they say "stable"? My first guess would be a fraction of a second since we haven't found any in nature (or are they WIMPS? :P)


the "stable" should mean indefinite long time, since it's the ground state. We haven't found in nature because we haven't push the probe of the periodic table beyond 300
eric96
1 / 5 (1) Jun 15, 2018
Anyone know what timescale they have in mind when they say "stable"? My first guess would be a fraction of a second since we haven't found any in nature (or are they WIMPS? :P)


We are the reason, the element is so poorly defined. An element is "that which is possible to take a spoonful." If you say elements that don't last forever or seconds aren't elements, if you are effectively compromising the definition from a physics and mathematical perspective. Either way, the definition will be compromised and you are asking, to what extent. The absolute limit that they could get away with is 1 billionth of a second; but that would make room for a monstrous periodic table; the current one is child's play. Mathematically, if I had the power I would define in terms of the speed of light as in 1 nanometer of time extrapolated from the speed of light; how much time is that? Whatever amount it is, it greatly exceeds our capabilities, thus 1 billionth of a second is sufficient.
Parsec
not rated yet Jun 15, 2018
While these calculations show that beyond atomic masses of 300 that udQM condensation is more stable than normal quark condensations of that mass, it is almost certainly true that fissioning into multiple regular type nuclear elements (with much smaller masses) would be energetically preferred. In other words, this stuff will have a very short half life, no matter what its made of.

The definition of stability is that something doesn't decay. At all. But what we are talking about here is relative stability. The difference between a few picoseconds and a few nanoseconds is a LOT.
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet Jun 15, 2018
It seems even quarks with their various properties and limitations are arbitrary though. Will be nice when we fully understand their nature, we can presumably create truly designer, non-quark matter, with any properties we desire. Atoms are quickly becoming obsolete...

Had to happen sooner or later...:-)
Phy7icz
4.3 / 5 (6) Jun 15, 2018
While these calculations show that beyond atomic masses of 300 that udQM condensation is more stable than normal quark condensations of that mass, it is almost certainly true that fissioning into multiple regular type nuclear elements (with much smaller masses) would be energetically preferred. In other words, this stuff will have a very short half life, no matter what its made of.

The definition of stability is that something doesn't decay. At all. But what we are talking about here is relative stability. The difference between a few picoseconds and a few nanoseconds is a LOT.


No. The thing here is really stable.
As I've looked the detail of this paper, the quark matter here is the GROUND STATE, which means it has bigger binding energy than anything else. Thus fission into smaller elements won't be energetically preferred. The stability thing talked about here really is absolute stability.
coastaljon
2.5 / 5 (2) Jun 15, 2018
Quark matter matters for matter!
Parsec
5 / 5 (2) Jun 15, 2018
While these calculations show that beyond atomic masses of 300 that udQM condensation is more stable than normal quark condensations of that mass, it is almost certainly true that fissioning into multiple regular type nuclear elements (with much smaller masses) would be energetically preferred. In other words, this stuff will have a very short half life, no matter what its made of.

The definition of stability is that something doesn't decay. At all. But what we are talking about here is relative stability. The difference between a few picoseconds and a few nanoseconds is a LOT.


No. The thing here is really stable.
As I've looked the detail of this paper, the quark matter here is the GROUND STATE, which means it has bigger binding energy than anything else. Thus fission into smaller elements won't be energetically preferred. The stability thing talked about here really is absolute stability.


Did not read the paper. That result is astonishing. Thanks.
Parsec
5 / 5 (2) Jun 15, 2018
I find it hard to imagine that if udQM matter actually was able to exist that large quantities would not be produced in the same processes that give rise to other heavy elements (neutron star mergers). While it is certainly possible that since no one has been looking for these elements, they are simply escaped detection, but it is hard to imagine that they would fail to be observed by their effects on spectroscopic data and isotropic measurements. For example, current efforts to define the kilogram involve creating a perphically sphere of silicon of a known isotopic composition. Any contamination not only throws off the mass calculations, but would also disturb the perfect crystalline structure required. Surely someone would have notice even a few thousand atoms of this type of containment.

There are lots of other measurement scientists have performed using matter amounts in which the atomic count is under a few thousand. Stuff like this should have been noticed.
Phy7icz
3.6 / 5 (5) Jun 16, 2018
it is hard to imagine that they would fail to be observed by their effects on spectroscopic data and isotropic measurements. For example, current efforts to define the kilogram involve creating a perphically sphere of silicon of a known isotopic composition. Any contamination not only throws off the mass calculations, but would also disturb the perfect crystalline structure required. Surely someone would have notice even a few thousand atoms of this type of containment.

There are lots of other measurement scientists have performed using matter amounts in which the atomic count is under a few thousand. Stuff like this should have been noticed.


No. To my knowledge on quark matter, to create such large baryon number matter, a simple collection of atoms is not enough. To break physical obstacle like coulomb barrier one need dense/high pressure environment simultaneously which may not exist in natural earth world, thus accelerator is needed as the article suggested.
doogsnova
1 / 5 (1) Jun 16, 2018
There are 280 elements.
ZoeBell
Jun 16, 2018
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
jonesdave
2.8 / 5 (9) Jun 16, 2018
Island of stability is just job evasion of physicists: it doesn't exist - or better to say, it has been already explored and found https://i.imgur.com/igZg3EK.png. The only interesting things currently happen in cold fusion research, which is boycotted by mainstream from ideological reasons (the parasites fear the competition and the lost of comfortable jobs).


Nope, it is just crap.
Phy7icz
3.4 / 5 (5) Jun 17, 2018
Island of stability is just job evasion of physicists: it doesn't exist - or better to say, it has been already explored and found https://i.imgur.com/igZg3EK.png. The only interesting things currently happen in cold fusion research, which is boycotted by mainstream from ideological reasons (the parasites fear the competition and the lost of comfortable jobs).


Nope. For the nuclear matter, if you look carefully the location of the island carefully (https://en.wikipe...bility), the Z/A ratio is in different unexplored region. I agree that the experiment haven't found that so far, but that doesn't exclude the possibility since experimentalist haven't "found a way to carry out such a reaction."(quote wiki), (at early time people even thought nuclear fission is not possible experimentally), or unless you can point out what's going wrong with nuclear shell model, which predicted this island.
Phy7icz
4.2 / 5 (5) Jun 17, 2018
Island of stability is just job evasion of physicists: it doesn't exist - or better to say, it has been already explored and found https://i.imgur.com/igZg3EK.png. The only interesting things currently happen in cold fusion research, which is boycotted by mainstream from ideological reasons (the parasites fear the competition and the lost of comfortable jobs).

BTW, the quark matter here is talking about "continent of stability", which is totally different thing from that "island of stability" of normal nuclear matter, since they are cover different region of Z and A. Above all, it still worth a try for experimental search
ZoeBell
Jun 17, 2018
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
rrwillsj
2.6 / 5 (5) Jun 17, 2018
ZB, still flogging that mythical cold fusion crankery? Well, we're still waiting for you to produce a working prototype cold fusion gimmick for your Patent application.

Let me guess. your next whinge will be how an infamous international conspiracy is preventing you from obtaining the key ingredient for your device.

Ah, that damned elusive Scarlet Pimpernel has carried off the worlds supply of unobtanium-invisabillis at the behest of the evil cabal led by professor Moriarty!

We hear echoing through the fog "Muhahaha".....

Maybe the Shadow knows?
Or has Ming the Merciless thwarted your genius, one more time.

The evil bastard!

Where iss Flash & Buck when you need them the most?

Perhaps you can ask assistance from the Heterodyne Boys?
For the Science!
SwamiOnTheMountain
1 / 5 (1) Jun 17, 2018
I've always heard it called the "island" of stability. When did it become a "continent?"
I guess they've become more optimistic over the years.
dirk_bruere
not rated yet Jun 17, 2018
Since most heavy elements seem to be produced by neutron star collisions it is surprising this matter has not been discovered in nature
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (4) Jun 18, 2018
I've always heard it called the "island" of stability. When did it become a "continent?"

Islands of stability are caused by certain (near) 'magic' numbers of protons/neutrons in an atomic nucleus (i.e. numbers where the half-life of such a nucleus is larger than nuclei with lower number of nucleons). Note that the atoms in islands of stability still have rather short half lives (minutes/days). It's not like we'd be building stuff out of this.

The continent of stability is another form of matter entirely. We're not dealing with atoms here (which is matter made out of hadrons) but with quark-quark matter.
Gigel
not rated yet Jun 18, 2018
The continent of stability is another form of matter entirely. We're not dealing with atoms here (which is matter made out of hadrons) but with quark-quark matter.

Nuclear-wise, it is so. But from an external point of view, small chuncks (A ~ 300) of udQM are essentially atoms. The nucleus probably has a weird structure (positive charges distributed to the outside), but it has small size and there is an electron shell around it. It looks like a heavy atom.

The tricky part is that this udQM would appear as many species of atoms with very different chemistry, without much periodicity (as in the table of elements) due to relativistic effects, which would make their isolation difficult. One could do mass spectrometry for that, but in order to find 1 udQM atom he would have to use a large sample of atoms (if udQM is very rare). That is probably why this stuff was not found before.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 18, 2018
udQM nuclei should show up pretty easily in detectors because the path of hadron matter is limited to full charge integers where a up/down quark mix should have a three time higher density of signals due to up quark having +2/3 charge and down -1/3 charge - which makes non-even charges a possibility depending on the exact mix of up/down quarks.

Note that 'continent of stability' should not suggest that this stuff is stable to any significant length of time under ambient conditions (so characterizing via 'different chemistry' is likely not an option). The situation in neutron stars - where this stuff is supposed to exist - is pretty far removed from where anything approaching 'chemistry' is relevant.
Gigel
not rated yet Jun 18, 2018
The article doesn't imply that 'stable' would necessarily mean a finite lifetime. Of course, that can't be excluded either.

Also, the udQM may have integer atomic numbers for the same reason normal nuclei have integer Z (fractional Z may be unstable).

Anyway the article is about a somewhat speculative theoretical study. It doesn't guarantee much in terms of experiments.

Quantum chromodynamics is a horribly complex field of study since interaction energies are much larger (about 100 times) than rest-mass energies, which means gluons become a significant part of the matter and particle-pair generation-annihilation become important. udQM, like nuclei, would be composed of a sea of particles of may kinds.

Something similar may happen with electron shells in superheavy elements when the electron energies would be much larger than their rest-mass energies. Whether such atoms are stable... I don't know.
savvys84
4 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2018
wow energy from quark matter. way you go dudes. good luck
gwrede
not rated yet Jun 19, 2018
"If it could be produced on Earth, quark matter has the potential to be used as a new source of energy."

If this is true, then udQM should make an observable difference to our current calculations, when we look at the creation or mergers of neutron stars.

Gigel
not rated yet Jun 19, 2018
Some guys said they found something superheavy (probably normal matter):

https://www.world...10014662
https://arxiv.org...804.3869

Results couldn't have been replicated yet.
Zzzzzzzz
3 / 5 (2) Jun 19, 2018
So we postulate that quark matter exists in neutron stars. It is stable in that environment. We want to make some of it here, on the earth's surface. The environment is quite different here, the significant delta involving spacetime curvature. So to produce a stable bit of quark matter, will we need to create a bit of heavily curved spacetime environment for it to be stable in? Or will the creation of that quark matter produce that bit of environment? Won't other matter in the vicinity of that bit of environment have a tendency to want to move toward it? Perhaps a really strong tendency? And turn into quark matter?

Maybe I read too much science fiction when I was younger.....
Ojorf
2.1 / 5 (7) Jun 20, 2018
So to produce a stable bit of quark matter, will we need to create a bit of heavily curved spacetime environment for it to be stable in?


The "environment" is a matter of the correct pressure and temperature, not "curved spacetime".
The curved spacetime is an effect, not a cause.

Maybe I read too much science fiction when I was younger.....


I still do.
savvys84
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 20, 2018
So we postulate that quark matter exists in neutron stars. It is stable in that environment. We want to make some of it here, on the earth's surface. The environment is quite different here, the significant delta involving spacetime curvature. So to produce a stable bit of quark matter, will we need to create a bit of heavily curved spacetime environment for it to be stable in? Or will the creation of that quark matter produce that bit of environment? Won't other matter in the vicinity of that bit of environment have a tendency to want to move toward it? Perhaps a really strong tendency? And turn into quark matter?

Maybe I read too much science fiction when I was younger.....
space cannot be bent. its impossible to bend space
humy
5 / 5 (3) Jun 20, 2018
The quark matter participates on cold fusion - but I doubt it will be researched just because of it.

1, there is no evidence that there exists some cold fusion involving quark matter.

2, there is no evidence that there exists cold fusion.
humy
4 / 5 (4) Jun 20, 2018
space cannot be bent. its impossible to bend space
You know spacetime is bent by gravity, right? There is a variety of evidence for this.
Gigel
not rated yet Jun 20, 2018
space cannot be bent. its impossible to bend space
You know spacetime is bent by gravity, right? There is a variety of evidence for this.

That is the current paradigm of GR, which is fine for now. Lots of proofs it works. Good theory, you can do many things with it.

But IMHO in time this will be refined and there is a chance spacetime will regain its absolute (and unchangeable) nature. I tend to think that spacetime is purely abstract, and matter and gravity are separate entities. What we call curved spacetime may be just the effect that gravity has on matter, not on spacetime. With this respect, I tend to take seriously Svidzinsky's theory of vector gravity: https://arxiv.org...11.07058

But for now GR is the best we have.
Ojorf
1.7 / 5 (6) Jun 20, 2018
But IMHO in time this will be refined and there is a chance spacetime will regain its absolute (and unchangeable) nature. I tend to think that spacetime is purely abstract, and matter and gravity are separate entities.

I like Stephen Wolfram's ideas about spacetime, it's not really science as such, but very interesting.
He starts off with only a bunch of nodes, joined by connections, no spacial dimensions at all. This network evolves step by step following very simple rules. On a large scale spacetime, SR & GR, are emergent properties of this network. He can derive Einstein's equations from it.
http://blog.steph...-really/
His book about it is available for free.
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (4) Jun 20, 2018
pacetime will regain its absolute (and unchangeable) nature.

Since you can get from the same starting point to the same endpoint in space with different measures of time having passed (and no end of experiments have shown this to be true)...no - that scenario is not in the cards.

Gigel
5 / 5 (1) Jun 20, 2018
I like Stephen Wolfram's ideas about spacetime, it's not really science as such, but very interesting.

Interesting stuff. Not very scientific, but rather an intuitionistic and simplifying model. Occam would have probably appreciated it.

It reminds me a bit of Konstantin Zloshchastiev's ideas about a universal Bose-Einstein condensate that generates GR via the acoustic metric, and also particles and interactions as collective modes and fluctuations (if I remember well) of the condensate. E.g.: https://arxiv.org...912.4139

Now I wonder what is the network representation of a B-E condensate...
Gigel
not rated yet Jun 20, 2018
Since you can get from the same starting point to the same endpoint in space with different measures of time having passed (and no end of experiments have shown this to be true)...no - that scenario is not in the cards.

There may be a difference between space/time and measure of space/time, where the latter is a representation of the former by means of matter. Anyway, spacetime is quite abstract and I don't know if it could be measured directly.
Gigel
not rated yet Jun 20, 2018
Some guys said they found something superheavy (probably normal matter):

https://www.world...10014662

Results couldn't have been replicated yet.

Maybe the best place to look for udQM is inside nuclear reactors. There are heavy elements there and any udQM that got inside with them would be given large numbers of slow neutrons to feed on. If neutrons would suffice for it to grow, there may be some large 'atoms' composed of it, with A way over 300. Now it's not clear whether udQM could grow only with neutrons or it would also need protons. Is there any mass spectrometry done on spent nuclear fuel?
Gigel
not rated yet Jun 20, 2018
Is there any mass spectrometry done on spent nuclear fuel?

Plenty of it; e.g. https://link.spri...7-1644-x
Not very useful though, any heavy udQM atom could be filtered away when the future nuclear fuel is purified.
savvys84
1 / 5 (1) Jun 21, 2018
space cannot be bent. its impossible to bend space


But for now GR is the best we have.
And its completely wrong. Sigh, when will science catch up

https://www.scrib...savvys84
Gigel
not rated yet Jun 21, 2018
savvy, you should talk to GR physicists about this. But first check your claims. GR was tested for the last 100 years and found to work.
Ojorf
2 / 5 (4) Jun 21, 2018
OK Savvys, let me ask you a question.

What is g at the center of the earth compared to the surface?
Where would a clock run slowest?

Ha, ha.
Zzzzzzzz
not rated yet Jun 21, 2018
Question for you, Ojorf:
If curved spacetime is not part of the environment around a massive object, why is there an event horizon surrounding a black hole? And why can't the event horizon be moved to another locality?
Perhaps cause and effect can be parsed, as I have already suggested, but massive objects and curved spacetime are intrinsically connected. Try to separate them, and see for yourself.
Ojorf
2 / 5 (4) Jun 22, 2018
Question for you, Ojorf:
If curved spacetime is not part of the environment around a massive object, why is there an event horizon surrounding a black hole?.


Huh? Spacetime IS curved by a massive object.
savvys84
1 / 5 (1) Jun 22, 2018
savvy, you should talk to GR physicists about this. But first check your claims. GR was tested for the last 100 years and found to work.

Lol all the results were interpreted to suit GR. you should know that
Gigel
not rated yet Jun 22, 2018
You can't interpret numbers in the end. What was measured is real.
savvys84
1 / 5 (1) Jun 22, 2018
Question for you, Ojorf:
If curved spacetime is not part of the environment around a massive object, why is there an event horizon surrounding a black hole? And why can't the event horizon be moved to another locality?
Perhaps cause and effect can be parsed, as I have already suggested, but massive objects and curved spacetime are intrinsically connected. Try to separate them, and see for yourself.

gravity curves around, not space
savvys84
1 / 5 (1) Jun 23, 2018
OK Savvys, let me ask you a question.

What is g at the center of the earth compared to the surface?
Where would a clock run slowest?

Ha, ha.

Oberg, Find out where gravity is the lowest and that is where time will run slowest.
do that as your home assignment and let me know your results

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