A team of researchers have recently discovered that when matter is cooled to near absolute zero, intriguing phenomena then emerge. Dubbed as supersolids, a group of physicists are now claiming to have successfully created a brand new "impossible" form of matter in the lab which is being noted for having the properties of both liquids and solids at the same time. That said, scientists have also predicted that this exotic state of matter could exist for more than 50 years, but no one had been able to demonstrate that it's actually possible.
Supersolids: The New State Of Matter
According to reports revealed by Phys Org, typically, matter exists in just four simple states namely solid, liquid, gas, and plasma which usually arise depending on conditions such as temperature and pressure, and are defined by the arrangements of particles within the matter. Experts have explained that in a supersolid state, atoms are allegedly arranged in a crystalline pattern while at the same time behaving like a superfluid, in which particles move without friction. As of the press time, although supersolidity is being considered as a theoretical construct, one of the two independent teams of physicists studying supersolids which were led by Tilman Esslinger, a professor of quantum optics at the Institute for Quantum Electronics, and Tobias Donner, senior scientist at the same institute has reported the successful production of a supersolid state.
Furthermore, in one of his statements reported by Science Alert, Wolfgang Ketterle, the lead researcher of one of the teams behind the discovery from MIT has claimed that it is counterintuitive to have a material which combines superfluidity and solidity. Consequently, it was found that supersolids were first predicted by Russian physicists back in 1969, who allegedly hypothesized that a helium-4 isotope could display solid and liquid properties simultaneously, under certain conditions. Until come 2004, as researchers from Pennsylvania State University have reportedly cooled helium to less than one-tenth of a degree above absolute zero, which has then led to what might have been a supersolid state.
The Collective Finding
Meanwhile, a number of experiments over the decade that followed were said to have further debunked the idea that a supersolid had been made; by showing that helium-4 has a type of 'quantum plasticisity' under certain situations, which isn't caused by supersolidity. Additionally, although they both had different processes, researchers from MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and ETH Zurich in Switzerland, were found to have both used a strange type of gas known as a Bose-Einstein condensate to create their supersolids. Ultimately, while the two teams have both made this claim at the same time might sound competitive; it turns out that both research groups are welcoming to the validation and feedback made by each team.