Buckyballs are all carbon. They are like caged spheroids, yet hollow. A small amount of impurity, pure people call it dope, alters the behaviour of these hollow spheroidal carbon molecular structures. Now these nanoscopic conglomerates exhibit properties alien to the giant carbon molecules or to rubidium atoms – truly an emergent behaviour.
In an unprecedented scale of disclosure across different media, a group of researchers from Tohoku University of Japan led by Dr. Kosmas Prassides, have claimed the achievement of a new emergent matter. This matter seems to have a fascinating behaviour of conductivity, insulation and magnetism – usually with swift transition of phases. Particularly, as you lower the temperature, its electrons hop out to sprint with an established indifference to the bond these molecules and the atoms within them have – to attain superconductivity; and but interestingly, not at so low temperature as traditionally associated with the phenomenon of superconductivity.
The endeavour to find new states of matter is not new, nor the incidents of matter discovered and (re)created in labs. Though matters in the state of being solid, liquid and gas along with plasma are abundant in nature in their full glory, humans too have discovered others first with the use of theoretical sciences mostly and later creating those in laboratory.
You see quark soups inside collider tunnels at CERN (Switzerland) whereas these were abundant during the first few milliseconds after the birth of Universe. Everybody does accept and honour this matter as a reality though non-believers of Big Bang theory may limit themselves to this extent only. To cite another example, superfluids were predicted more than a half-century ago to exist in neutron stars, the ones approximately double the size of our Sun. And these zero viscosity condensates also illustrate their presence in labs in different corners across the globe time and again. List can go on.
The current breakthrough gains appreciation against the backdrop of a growing demand for achieving the properties like superconductivity and super-insulation at higher temperatures – a feat that can revolutionise engineering activities across various industries, and has the potential of changing the way we live. On the other hand, it’s simply a sheer pleasure to observe the transformational effects when the interstices of molecular carbon structure are populated with a few external atoms of the alkali metal. After a guided cooling of hot carbon plasmas with dopes, the matter degenerates with geometrical distortion to weed out the inherent instability, popularly known as Jahn-Teller Effect; and useful behaviours emerge – not bad to call it Jahn-Teller metal.