Seeing stable topology using instabilities

We are most familiar with the four conventional phases of matter: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. Changes between two phases, known as phase transitions, are marked by abrupt changes in material properties such as density. ...

Zapping quantum materials with lasers tells us how atoms relate

Phase transitions are a fundamental piece of physics and chemistry. We're all familiar with different phases of water, for example, but this idea of a system of particles changing what it looks like and how it behaves is ...

What stops flows in glassy materials?

Glasses have a liquid-like disordered structure but solid-like mechanical properties. This leads to one of the central mysteries of glasses: Why don't they flow like liquids? This question is so important that it was selected ...

Physicists observe the emergence of collective behaviour

Phase transitions describe dramatic changes in properties of a macroscopic system—like the transition from a liquid to a gas. Starting from individual ultracold atoms, Heidelberg University physicists were able to observe ...

Like fire and ice: Why societies are increasingly fragmenting

Scientists at the Complexity Science Hub Vienna (CSH) have shown that the accelerating fragmentation of society—often referred to as filter bubbles—is a direct consequence of the growing number of social contacts. According ...

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Phase transition

A phase transition is a natural physical process. It has the characteristic of taking a given medium with given properties and transforming some or all of that medium, into a new medium with new properties. Phase transitions occur frequently and are found everywhere in the natural world. Some engineering techniques exploit certain types of phase transition.

In thermodynamics, a phase transition is the transformation of a thermodynamic system from one phase to another.

At a phase transition point, physical properties may undergo abrupt change: for instance, the volume of the two phases may be vastly different as is illustrated by the boiling of liquid water to form steam.

The term is most commonly used to describe transitions between solid, liquid and gaseous states of matter, in rare cases including plasma.

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