Stanford physicists make new form of matter

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Matthew, Jun 6, 2012.

  1. Matthew
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    Matthew Blue dog all the way!

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    Stanford physicists make new form of matter

    (Phys.org) -- Within the exotic world of macroscopic quantum effects, where fluids flow uphill, wires conduct without electrical resistance and magnets levitate, there is an even stranger family of "unconventional" phenomena. These effects often defy explanation by current theoretical physics, but hold enormous promise for the development of such futuristic technologies as room-temperature superconductors, ultrasensitive microscopes and quantum computation.




    Much of the confusion surrounding the field is due to the sorts of materials that exhibit unconventional superconductivity. These substances are made up of strongly interacting fermions, a class of particles that are often very difficult to understand on the quantum level.

    Last week's announcement by a Stanford team in Physical Review Letters that it has created the world's first dipolar quantum fermionic gas from the metal dysprosium – "an entirely new form of quantum matter," as Stanford applied physics Professor and lead author Benjamin Lev put it – represents a major step toward understanding the behavior of these systems of particles. And this understanding makes for a leap toward the supernatural-seeming applications that condensed-matter physics conjures.

    Being ultracold

    When the thermal energy of some substances drops below a certain critical point, it is often no longer possible to consider its component particles separately. Instead, the material becomes "strongly correlated" and its quantum effects become difficult to understand and study.

    Making the material out of a gas of atoms allows what is normally only observed on a nanometer scale to become visible. These quantum gases, the coldest objects known to man, are where researchers see zero-viscosity fluids – superfluids – that are mathematical cousins of superconductors.

    The invention of the key technique for cooling gases to near absolute zero netted Stanford Professor Emeritus Steven Chu a Nobel Prize in 1997. While researchers have been cooling gases into the quantum realm for two decades, creating strongly correlated quantum gases has proven a much larger challenge.

    The basic cooling method hasn't changed significantly since Chu's days, but the techniques employed have become more extreme.
    Stanford physicists make new form of matter
     
  2. Old Rocks
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    Old Rocks Diamond Member

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    Every time I see something like this, I wonder, where will see this applied? I remember the first article I read on liquid crystals. My first reaction was, what the heck can they do with that?
     

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