Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Scientists have identified new competing state of matter.
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory and theoretical physicists at University of Alabama Birmingham located the novel, long-lasting matter state while investigating the behavior of an iron pnictide superconductor.
The team of scientists described their discovery in the journal Physical Review Letters.
"Superconductivity is a strange state of matter, in which the pairing of electrons makes them move faster," Jigang Wang, an Ames researcher and professor of physics at Iowa State University, said in a news release. "One of the big problems we are trying to solve is how different states in a material compete for those electrons, and how to balance competition and cooperation to increase temperature at which a superconducting state emerges."
To study the superconductor, scientists used terahertz spectroscopy, a flash photography-like technique that utilizes super laser pulses, each pulse lasting less than a trillionth of a second. When fired rapidly, the long wavelength far-infrared light reveals the subtle movements of electron pairings within the material.
According to researchers, their photographs revealed a unique mode of electron behavior, constituting a new state of matter -- or as described in their paper, a "long-lived, many-quasiparticle excitonic state."
When excited by the laser light, the collective behaviors of the electron pairs compete with a material's superconductivity properties.
The team of physicists plan to continue probing the superconductor materials for new details into the nature of the novel state.
"The ability to see these real time dynamics and fluctuations is a way to understanding them better, so that we can create better superconducting electronics and energy-efficient devices," said Wang.