Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Shaking Down Frozen Helium: In a ‘Supersolid’ State, It Has Liquid-Like Characteristics

In a four-decade, Holy Grail-like quest to fully understand what it means to be in a “supersolid” state, physicists have found that supersolid isn’t always super solid. In other words, this exotic state of frozen helium appears to have liquid-like properties, says a new paper published in the journal Science (May 13, 2011).

Why is this important? Understanding supersolid helium brings us closer to understanding its close cousins superconductivity and superfluidity.

Physicists had long thought that the unusual behavior of torsion oscillators containing solid helium meant that chilling helium down to temperatures near absolute zero prompts its transformation into a supersolid. It is certainly solid, but in this physical quest, there was a nagging question: Is it a true supersolid?

To gain new perspectives on solid helium, new research tools were needed. “Think of this analogy: when Galileo first peered through a telescope, he saw ears on Saturn. With improved technology, humanity began to understand those ears were actually rings around the planet. And with better technology, we saw the differences in the rings. To further understand solid helium, science had to invent new approaches,” says Séamus Davis, Cornell professor of physics. “Helium is a pure material. We’re gaining a new understanding of the fundamental issues of how nature works, of how the universe works.”

In fact, in this paper, the researchers show instead a more prosaic explanation: There are moving defects in the solid helium crystals, and their relaxation time falls with rising temperatures. This is more consistent with the torsional oscillation (shaking) experiments conducted at Cornell.

The researchers learned that the unusual properties of solid helium do not reflect a clunky transition between the solid state and a supersolid state. It behaves like a dimmer switch and presents a smooth transition near absolute zero.

The research, “Interplay of Rotational, Relaxational, and Shear Dynamics in Solid 4He,” is reported in Science (May 13, 2011). The lead authors are Ethan Pratt, Cornell Ph.D. ’10, post-doctoral researcher at Cornell and Ben Hunt, Cornell Ph.D. ’09, currently at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The other authors are Séamus Davis, the J.G. White Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences at Cornell, and graduate student Vikram Gadagkar; Alexander Balatsky and Matthias Graf, Los Alamos National Laboratory; and Minoru Yamashita at Kyoto University.

Funding for this research: the National Science Foundation and the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics. Research at Los Alamos was supported by U.S. Department of Energy, through the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program.

Blaine Friedlander | Newswise Science News
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht First results of NSTX-U research operations
26.10.2016 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

nachricht Scientists discover particles similar to Majorana fermions
25.10.2016 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>