Hello! For a long time, only four aggregate states of matter – solid, liquid, gaseous and plasma. However, more recently, scientists managed to find a new state of a quantum liquid. But about this further, and now – we put the likes and we look to end! Two groups of scientists (from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Higher Polytechnic School of Zurich) in different ways received a very strange state of matter, namely: superfluidity of a solid. Or, speaking their language – supersolid.
At first glance, these two concepts – fluidity and solid body – mutually exclude each other.
Nevertheless, this state was predicted even more half a century ago. But now reliable evidence has been received about its existence. But let’s try to figure out what exactly scientists got.
First, we need to remember what a Bose-Einstein condensate is because it is from this, both teams began their journey. Such a condensate is a substance formed bosons – elements that can be simultaneously both particles and wave. At ultra-low temperatures, they exhibit visible with the naked eye quantum effects.
Roughly speaking, the physics of the microworld begins to manifest itself clearly in the macrocosm.
One such manifestation is superfluidity- the ability of a substance, with a decrease in temperature up to absolute zero, to penetrate through all the cracks and capillaries without friction.
Superfluid liquid placed in a test tube begins to creep up the sides of the vessel, breaking laws gravity and surface tension. And now imagine a solid body with properties superfluid liquid.
Difficult, is not it?
So it was difficult for scientists! After all, to recreate superfluidity in ordinary crystals (like diamond or quartz) they could not. But physicists from the United States suggested that becoming a super-liquid can be solid helium. And only if its atoms are the free movement within the whole crystal.
As a result, both groups received new strange crystals, in which an even more paradoxical effect was observed superfluidity.
With the help of laser cooling, in which the atoms emit more energy than absorb, the researchers reduced The internal energy of sodium atoms, which are bosons, to a minimum. After that, half of the bosons were changed by quantum characteristics – back.
As a result, the Bose-Einstein condensate was transformed into a mixture of two quantum liquids.
According to physicists, the density of such a condensate can spontaneously change, forming ripples or waves. This state is called the stripe phase, and its presence is characteristic of a superfluid solid body.
Well, what did scientists from Switzerland do?
They used rubidium gas. When strongly cooled, it behaves like a condensate Bose-Einstein. Then it was placed between two mirrors oriented to one another at a certain angle, and “sent” the releaser ray.
It immediately formed between the standing mirrors wave that transformed a condensate cloud into an analog of a solid body. So physicists could add to the list of very strange state substances that are possible only at low temperatures and only because of quantum effects.
It should be noted that both groups of scientists for this moment expect to verify their results by others researchers.
In the future, scientists hope to study this issue more in detail. For example, it is not yet known whether these superfluid solid support superfluid flow and how do they respond to external influences? But, in any case, a quick practical benefit from these experiments should not be expected.
Superfluid solid exists only in hard-to-reach conditions, and it is not yet clear what benefit from it can be will extract. However, there is another opinion that this discovery can start a whole chain of other studies, which will turn modern science and radically change habitual … to us … world…In the meantime, everything!
Share this article with your friends and see you again!