The subatomic structure of this matter is different from normal matter. Ritsuko Akagi explains that this type of matter is characterized by both particle and wave properties, like light:
- "Angels are made up of a strange substance that has the properties of both a wave and a particle, just like light. (...) Even though they’re made of different material, their signal distribution and coordinates are strikingly similar to human DNA. 99.89% similar.”
The "particle-wave matter" that Angels (and Evas) are composed of would, based on Ritsuko's description, appear to be particles with nonzero rest mass—not massless like a photon, but perhaps comparable to a neutrino in mass, showing measurable wave behavior while still being matter.
Essentially, while the "atoms" which Angels are made of are not what we would consider "normal" matter (they don't even seem to be composed of an arrangement of protons, neutrons, and electrons), the structure of the "molecules" into which "atoms" of particle-wave matter are arranged is an almost exactly the same as certain molecule forms found in terrestrial life forms, specifically the arrangement of human genetic molecules.
Ritsuko refers to the genetic scan of Shamshel as displaying the Angel's "inherent wave pattern".
Two of the known properties of PWM are:
- PWM is unaffected by Anti-A.T. Fields. In EOE Lilith, Unit-01 and the M.P. Evas do not turn into LCL along with the humans.
- Upon death (the tank Reis in Ep. 23, Lilith in EOE), or A.T. Field failure (Rei in EOE), some PWM beings fall apart.
At the scale of human beings, matter tends to behave as particles (discrete individual units), while electromagnetic radiation (including light) tends to behave as waves. The basic units of energy are "quanta", discrete packets of energy which cannot be further subdivided. Later, it was discovered that matter actually behaves as waves too: according to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, electrons move around an atom in such a way that while a discrete "particle", the exact location and direction of a single electron cannot be determined at the same time (this is why the "cloud" model is often used to represent electrons), and they do behave like a wave. Protons and Neutrons, and other heavier subatomic particles represent less of wavelike properties due to their much greater rest mass, a proton having almost two thousand times the rest mass of an electron. Photons (the quanta of electromagnetic energy) are massless particles traveling at the speed of light.
Large concentrations of matter (like a human being) have wave properties, but on far too negligible a scale to measure.
- This article's subject does not have any known canonical designation. "Particle-wave matter" is a fan-created term based on Ritsuko's quote in Episode 05.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion. Episode 05.