A brand new electrical phenomenon has been discovered – a huge electric field in a thin film of laughing gas

From Science Alert:

ScreenHunter_924 Dec. 23 18.23Scientists in Denmark have made a curious and awesome discovery – cooled down, solid laughing gas can contain an enormous electric field.

The discovery occurred when physicists at Aarhus University were observing how electrons travel through nitrous oxide, or 'laughing gas', frozen to minus 233 degrees Celsius. When brought down to this temperature, the gas formed a thin, solid film, about one tenth of a micron thick, hovering over a strip of gold.

It was supposed to be a routine experiment, but the team soon realised something was amiss. A potential of around 14.5 volts appeared spontaneously on the film, which in turn produced an enormous electrical field of more than 100 million volts per metre. Based on widely accepted notions in physics, there should have been no electric current whatsoever.

“They came upstairs and knocked on my door, saying ‘David, there's something not right’. At first we thought the experiment had gone wrong, because it wasn't supposed to be possible for a current to pass through the film and be detected. No external voltage was applied,” physicist David Field told Lise Brix at ScienceNordic.

Further testing confirmed that what they’d found is a brand new electrical phenomenon, which Field is calling ‘spontelectric’. The team has published their findings in the journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics.

More here. [Thanks to Steve Chasen.]