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Effect of Cooling on Molecular Structure

  1. Jul 5, 2014 #1
    I am interested in knowing whether what changes would happen at the molecular and atomic level, to a material subjected to Cooling.
    1. Does the minimum temperature that can be achieved has limit?
    2. Is it Zero Kelvin?
    3. If so, is it a global standard for minimum temperature for any material?
    4. When a material is cooled, what will be the effect on vibrational and rotational motion of the electrons inside the atom and what will happen to the inter-molecular bonds between molecules?

    Thank You !
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 5, 2014 #2


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    Yes, the minimum temperature to which you can cool any substance is zero kelvin*, although in practice, it is nearly impossible to achieve absolute zero.

    As a material is cooled, the material will redistribute its particles from the higher energy translational, vibrational, and rotational modes to lower energy modes. At absolute zero, all particles in the system will be in their lowest energy mode (the ground state). These low energy modes, however, are not free from motion, and therefore, a material at absolute zero will still have some residual kinetic energy called the zero point energy.

    * In some very special cases, there are systems (such as lasers) that are said to have negative temperature. However, as these are not equilibrium states, it's questionable whether it is correct to say that they have a temperature at all.
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