Definition of metastable in English:



  • 1(of a state of equilibrium) stable provided it is subjected to no more than small disturbances.

    ‘the amount of supercooling a liquid can accept while remaining in metastable equilibrium is limited’
    • ‘A local minimum near the transition state in the free energy profile suggests metastable states that are populated with a very low probability at equilibrium.’
    • ‘At very low membrane tension, small fusion pores can be trapped in a flickering metastable state.’
    • ‘In this mode the upper level is pumped up before the lower level has had time to empty and, consequently, there is no room in the lower levels for the metastable states to decay to.’
    • ‘This disappearance of a metastable state is precisely what happens at a ‘spinodal point’ in equilibrium statistical physics.’
    • ‘What allows this metastable state to persist is the existence of an energy barrier.’
    1. 1.1(of a substance or particle) theoretically unstable but so long-lived as to be stable for practical purposes.
      ‘the occurrence of metastable olivine and deep earthquakes in subducting lithosphere’
      • ‘Transformation of the monolayers involves a kinetic transition to a metastable state, analogous to the kinetic formation of metastable liquids.’
      • ‘A plasma is an ionised gas containing ions, metastable species, radicals, neutrals and electromagnetic radiation.’
      • ‘The metastable film melts with no increase in area beyond the thermal expansion of the LE phase.’
      • ‘In van der Waals' theory, the spinodals are the turning points in the loops of the phase diagram where a metastable liquid or gas becomes unstable.’
      • ‘The compressed films are metastable at these pressures.’