Physicists have chilled molecules to just a smidgen above absolute zero — colder than the afterglow of the Big Bang.
The scientists claim to have created such superchilled atoms that they are the coldest molecules (which are two or more atoms chemically connected ever created. The wacky physics thought to occur at jaw-droppingly cold temperatures could be revealed by the achievement.
Atoms and molecules at normal everyday temperatures whiz at superfast speeds around us, even crashing into one another. After the Matter getting extremely cold, strange things ought to happen. These particles would cease to zip and collide as individuals, and instead would behave as a single body as assumed by physicists. The result was thought to be exotic states of matter never observed before.
A team at MIT, led by the physicist Martin Zwierlein cooled down a sodium potassium gas using lasers, to dissipate the energy of individual gas molecules to explore this cold scenario. They chilled the gas molecules to temperatures as low as 500 nanokelvins – just 500 billionths of a degree above absolute zero (minus 459.67 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 273.15 degrees Celsius.). That’s more than a million times colder than interstellar space. (The density of the gas in their experiment was so small that it would qualify as near vacuum in most places.
The result: molecules were quite stable and tended not to react with other molecules around them. In addition they also found the molecules showed strong dipole moments which are the distributions of electric charges in a molecule that govern how they attract or repel other molecules.