MIT Scientists Created A New Form Of Matter Called SupersolidBy Chris Brandt
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) seem to always be up to something new. After a number of noteworthy research and experiments, a new one comes along and this time it's a new form of matter they called supersolid.
To create this new form of matter, John D. MacArthur Professor of Physics at MIT and 2001 Noble laureate Wolfgang Ketterle and his team combined the properties of solids and superfluids, liquids that have zero viscosity. One of example of a superfluid is liquid helium.
Liquids that have superfluid characteristic do not lose their kinetic energy. That means, when you started stirring them, it will continue to flow or spin forever. Thus, combining superfluids with solids seem like a great contrast in idea and in application.
What, then, did the team use in order to meld these contrasting forms of matter into one?
Bose-Einstein condensate or BEC, a superfluid state of dilute gas, which Ketterle co-discovered and won him the Nobel prize in physics. Using BEC, Ketterle and his team manipulated the motion of the atoms inside it using two sets of laser beams. One set was placed in an ultra-high vacuum chamber to create a spin-orbit coupling and the other set put half of the atoms to a quantum phase.
The two lasers created a 'spin-flip' which resulted in the liquid not having constant density anymore. The manipulated atom produced a wave-like pattern, a characteristic seen in crystalline solids.
When asked what the impact of the research in future applications is, the researchers said that further understanding of the nature of superfluids could lead to a better understanding of the properties of superconductors which, in turn, could lead to a more efficient energy transport.
The research was published in the journal Nature.