Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Physicists from Stuttgart prove the existence of a supersolid state of matte

09.09.2019

A supersolid is a state of matter that can be described in simplified terms as being solid and liquid at the same time. In recent years, extensive efforts have been devoted to the detection of this exotic quantum matter. A research team led by Tilman Pfau and Tim Langen at the 5th Institute of Physics of the University of Stuttgart has succeeded in proving experimentally that the long-sought supersolid state of matter exists. The researchers report their results in Nature magazine.

In our everyday lives, we are familiar with matter existing in three different states: solid, liquid, or gas. However, if matter is cooled down to extremely low temperatures, quantum effects can also enable other states of matter. This includes superfluids, which are characterized by a frictionless flow of atoms.


This image shows parts of the experimental laser setup used by the researchers in Stuttgart to create a supersolid from ultracold dysprosium atoms. ble

University of Stuttgart / Wolfram Scheible

Moreover, in the quantum world, particles can exist in superpositions of being unpredictably and randomly in two different locations.

It had long been conjectured that even superpositions of states of matter are possible. According to these ideas, known states of matter, such as solid or fluid, can thus be superimposed to form new states of matter with new properties.

A supersolid is exactly such a superposition state, and features both the crystalline structure of a solid and the frictionless flow of a superfluid. In such a state every atom is unpredictably and randomly either part of the solid or of the superfluid.

In the experiments in Stuttgart, the supersolid is generated from dysprosium atoms that behave like tiny magnets. These atoms are cooled down to near absolute zero (-273° Celsius). At this point, two types of interaction between atoms become important: if two atoms come very close together, they collide like billiard balls.

At the same time, they can attract or repel each other over larger distances due to the magnetic interaction. To generate a supersolid, the researchers adjusted the relationship between these two forces such that a crystalline lattice structure and superfluidity are created simultaneously.

"We were able to observe the periodicity of the crystal directly with a microscope, and tested the quantum mechanical superposition through interference experiments" explain Mingyang Guo and Fabian Böttcher, postdoc and doctoral student at the experiment.

Detection by means of sound waves
The definitive proof that the matter created in the experiment is indeed a supersolid is based on the observation of two kinds of sound waves that travel through the supersolid at different speeds. Such sound waves propagate differently in different materials – in air, for example, sound waves travel much slower than in water.

This "normal" sound wave is also present in the supersolid. However, because the supersolid is at the same time solid and fluid, a characteristic second form of sound wave can be observed, in which the crystal and the superfluid move against each other. This results in sound waves that travel at very low speeds, which the researchers in Stuttgart were able to observe for the first time in their experiment.

In recent years, several observations of a supersolid have been reported, but it later turned out that only one form of sound wave was present. "Using our experiment with ultracold dysprosium atoms, we have now succeeded for the first time in observing simultaneously all defining properties of a supersolid state" Tilman Pfau summarizes. The experiments in Stuttgart now open up the possibility to study the exotic properties of this new state of matter in unprecedented detail.

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Prof. Tilman Pfau, University of Stuttgart, 5th Institute of Physics,
Tel. +49 711 685-68025, E-Mail: t.pfau (at) physik.uni-stuttgart.de

Originalpublikation:

"The low-energy Goldstone mode in a trapped dipolar supersolid"
Mingyang Guo, Fabian Böttcher, Jens Hertkorn, Jan-Niklas Schmidt, Matthias Wenzel, Hans Peter Büchler, Tim Langen, Tilman Pfau
Nature, (2019)

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1569-5 Original Publication
https://youtu.be/7cMuC0d0VYA Video

Andrea Mayer-Grenu | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.uni-stuttgart.de/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Molecules move faster on a rough terrain
20.01.2020 | Université libre de Bruxelles

nachricht Spider-Man-style robotic graspers defy gravity
20.01.2020 | American Institute of Physics

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: Programmable nests for cells

KIT researchers develop novel composites of DNA, silica particles, and carbon nanotubes -- Properties can be tailored to various applications

Using DNA, smallest silica particles, and carbon nanotubes, researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) developed novel programmable materials....

Im Focus: Miniature double glazing: Material developed which is heat-insulating and heat-conducting at the same time

Styrofoam or copper - both materials have very different properties with regard to their ability to conduct heat. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz and the University of Bayreuth have now jointly developed and characterized a novel, extremely thin and transparent material that has different thermal conduction properties depending on the direction. While it can conduct heat extremely well in one direction, it shows good thermal insulation in the other direction.

Thermal insulation and thermal conduction play a crucial role in our everyday lives - from computer processors, where it is important to dissipate heat as...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer IAF establishes an application laboratory for quantum sensors

In order to advance the transfer of research developments from the field of quantum sensor technology into industrial applications, an application laboratory is being established at Fraunhofer IAF. This will enable interested companies and especially regional SMEs and start-ups to evaluate the innovation potential of quantum sensors for their specific requirements. Both the state of Baden-Württemberg and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are supporting the four-year project with one million euros each.

The application laboratory is being set up as part of the Fraunhofer lighthouse project »QMag«, short for quantum magnetometry. In this project, researchers...

Im Focus: How Cells Assemble Their Skeleton

Researchers study the formation of microtubules

Microtubules, filamentous structures within the cell, are required for many important processes, including cell division and intracellular transport. A...

Im Focus: World Premiere in Zurich: Machine keeps human livers alive for one week outside of the body

Researchers from the University Hospital Zurich, ETH Zurich, Wyss Zurich and the University of Zurich have developed a machine that repairs injured human livers and keep them alive outside the body for one week. This breakthrough may increase the number of available organs for transplantation saving many lives of patients with severe liver diseases or cancer.

Until now, livers could be stored safely outside the body for only a few hours. With the novel perfusion technology, livers - and even injured livers - can now...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

„Advanced Battery Power“- Conference, Contributions are welcome!

07.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecules move faster on a rough terrain

20.01.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Spider-Man-style robotic graspers defy gravity

20.01.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Laser diode emits deep UV light

20.01.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>