Unbalanced superfluid could be akin to exotic matter found in quark star
This is a 3-dimensional projection of an image of a phase separated atomic cloud. The tall central (semi-transparent) region consists of paired fermionic 6 Li atoms, and is believed to be a superfluid. The shorter (opaque) peaks on either side, as well as the faint ring around the bottom, are unpaired atoms which have been expelled from the paired central region. The light in the background is a representation of the probe laser beam used to image this cloud.
In the bizarre and rule-bound world of quantum physics, every tiny spec of matter has something called "spin" - an intrinsic trait like eye color - that cannot be changed and which dictates, very specifically, what other bits of matter the spec can share quantum space with. When fermions, the most antisocial type of quantum particle, do get together, they pair up in a wondrous dance that enables such things as superconductivity.
For the first time, researchers at Rice University have succeeded in creating and observing an elusive and long-sought quantum state - a superfluid of fermions with mismatched numbers of dance partners. Despite more than 40 years of theoretical musings about what would occur in such a case, the result - a cluster of matched pairs surrounded by a cloud of would-be dance partners - was largely unexpected.
B.J. Almond | EurekAlert!
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