New form of matter: one supersolid, three states


Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) have created a new form of matter in the laboratory. According to two reports published this week in the journal Nature, physicists have created a system that has the regular structure of a common solid, however, without the typical viscosity of a superfluid. Thus, the first supersolid with ultra-cold quantum gas.

It was possible for the MIT team to discover this state of matter by studying the Bose-Einstein condensate, a phase of matter formed by bosons that are obtained at very low temperatures (very close to absolute zero) and in the almost absolute vacuum.

This team manipulated this condensate through two laser beams that gave it a crystalline structure. The condensate gained this crystalline structure, the quantum gas of which it was composed maintained the superfluidity that characterizes it. In this stage of matter, baptized as “stripes” or “strips”, the density of the supersolid changes and propagates through the system as the waves created by a rock in a pond. “If his coffee were superfluous and moved him, he would turn forever,” or Professor Wolfgang Ketterle, about the behavior of that matter.

The ETH team discovered the superfluid through the Bose-Einstein condensate, however, using only a laser beam and a two-division mechanism where the beam could create resonance. Thus, it was the resonance that forced the atoms of the condensate to reorganize in order to regulate as a solid, but without altering the superfluidity of the quantum gas.

Already since the late 1960s, which scientists believe is possible to turn supersolids into superfluids, however, the only experiments done so far have been based on helium atoms. Even though there is still no direct application of this new discovery in everyday life, scientists believe that the study of bodies in this state of matter can help us study superconductivity, that is, the ability of some materials to exhibit very high temperatures Power without power loss.

“These are not solids that can be grasped with your hands. They are highly designed materials that do not have their solid characteristics in all dimensions, which makes them even stranger”, said Wolfgang Ketterle of MIT, noting that this new state of matter combines gas, solids and liquid properties. It is now necessary for an independent verification to approve the conclusions of the two experiments so that it is possible to certify the new supersolid.