MIT Group Creates a High-Temperature Superfluid

The vortices observed in three rotating superfluids superimposed on the eye of a hurricane

Physicists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created the first example of a high-temperature superfluid: a new state of matter in which the atoms in a gas can move with no friction or slowing down whatsoever.

Reported in the June 23 issue of journal Nature, the work is closely related to the superconductivity of electrons in metals. According to Wolfgang Ketterle, the Nobel laureate who heads the MIT group, observations of superfluids may help solve lingering questions about high-temperature superconductivity, which has widespread applications for magnets, sensors and energy efficient transport of electricity.

“In superfluids, as well as in superconductors, particles move in lockstep,” explains Ketterle. “They form one big quantum-mechanical wave.” Such a movement allows superconductors to carry electrical currents without resistance.

The MIT research was carried out at the MIT-Harvard Center for Ultracold Atoms, which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and received direct support from NSF, the Office of Naval Research, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Army Research Office.

For more information, see the MIT news release.

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